Fourth Child Syndrome

This morning I had a coffee date with a friend. We’d scheduled and re-scheduled a dozen times already. I refused to change plans again.

Of course, this would be the morning Samuel, my youngest, wasn’t feeling well.

When my first child was a baby, I jumped at the first sign of sniffles. I had the doctor’s office number on speed dial, right after my mother’s. I was on a first-name basis with all of the office staff, knew their favorite TV shows, sent them Christmas cards and shared recipes.

Fast forward almost twenty years. We have a different pediatrician and I can’t even remember her name. I don’t think our youngest has seen the inside of a doctor’s office since his last round of shots before kindergarten.

I’ve earned my medical degree by now, right? I can patch up a bloody knee with an old paper towel and some scotch tape-with the speed of a gazelle. Burns and bumps are minor distractions. Daily diagnosis are my specialty.

A clear sign of 4th Child Syndrome.

Samuel woke up with pain on the side of his face. Holding his cheek he told me, “My face hurts.”

“Let me feel your forehead. Why, you’re as cool as a cucumber.” I smiled.

Visions of girlfriend-time danced in my head.

“But, Mom, my face really hurts.”

I listened to his chest, peeked in his mouth and checked his ears. “No fever. You slept fine last night. No blood. You haven’t barfed. Yep, you’re okay.”

Paul walked in, bending down to examine our son. Apparently, Samuel needed a second opinion. “Well, maybe we should take him to the doctor’s, Joanne.”

A sliver of mom-guilt crept in. I smothered it. “Okay. I’ll give him some ibuprofen and we can take him in. But, not until after I get back.”

Samuel’s doctor’s appointment confirmed I was right. Nothing was wrong, except maybe some sinus pressure from a former cold. We received no medication and ended up taking him to run errands and then out to a sit-down lunch. Something I would’ve never done if my oldest child had been home sick.

Parenting looks a lot different after twenty-years.

4th-Child-Syndrome: Anything you now find cute, humorous, or indifferent, that you would have had a fit over with your first born.


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