The Thirtieth Chart (Spurts)

March 2, 2012

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

My children have an unusual health quirk that I’ve never seen or heard of in any other kids.  Five has more or less outgrown it, but Three still suffers from it.

Ick-factor alert.  This is not necessarily for those of you with weak stomachs, so you might want to skip ahead to the other spurts if it starts to get a little too gross for you.

When they get bad colds and/or coughs, the mucus pools in their stomachs.  I know this is in part because they’re still learning how to blow their noses probably.  And it doesn’t happen every time.  Depending on the severity of the cold, sometimes we completely bypass this part of the “sniffle season.”  But occasionally we see it front and center.

So, the girls get colds, they don’t blow their noses probably, and then the mucus starts to collect.  And when their bodies have had enough, the girls throw up.

When I picked Three up from preschool on Tuesday, her teacher helped her in the car and told me that Three had complained since the morning of a stomachache.  And when I looked at Three’s face, I could see she had not had a good morning.

Normally I’m on my Bluetooth with my mom as I drive to school to pick up Three; I immediately told my mother I would have to go, and because she could hear everything clearly through my earpiece she hung up.  I asked Three what had happened and how she felt.  She confirmed the stomachache, and I wondered whether she would throw up.

Well, she spared me a trip to the car wash; she actually waited to vomit until we were outside our house on the sidewalk.

But when I took her inside, Three’s face had changed considerably.

“How do you feel?” I asked.
“Good,” she answered.

“Does your tummy hurt?”

“No.  It feels good.”

“Does it hurt at all?”
“No.”

My husband had come home early, feeling under the weather himself.  He suggested right away that maybe she was coming down with a cold; I was a little skeptical.  She had no runny nose, no cough, nothing.  Wouldn’t there be at least one or two symptoms of what we call “the sniffles”?

Later I picked up Five from school, and I told her about her sister and the episode outside the house.  Sympathy flooded her face as she asked about Three, and when she walked in the door she approached her sister right away.  As both girls went upstairs so Five could change out of her school clothes, we heard Three say, “Hey, Di-Di [older sister in Hindi,] do you know that I throwed [sic] up?”

“Really?  Where did you throw up?  What happened?”

And both girls continued to discuss, in graphic detail, the entire situation.  And us grownups looked at one another and shook our heads.  I’ve heard of the closeness between siblings, but am I supposed to draw a line when it comes to this?

***

One morning as we drove to school, Five asked, “Mommy, are we Americans?”

Now, why would she ask such a silly question?  Because we all have brown skin and black hair (owing to our Indian heritage)?  Maybe it’s because her father and grandparents speak perfect English that is tinged and sometimes turned in slightly different directions by accents.  Or it could be growing up bilingual—would that make her question her citizenship?  Surely it couldn’t be because we regularly eat roti (Indian flatbread,) daal (lentil soup,) and some form of sabji (cooked vegetables that don’t have gravy) for dinner.

More importantly, how was I supposed to answer the question without diminishing the importance of either culture—the one where her grandparents and father grew up as well as the one where she lived now?

“Yes, we’re Americans,” I replied after a minute, “and our family is from India, so we’re Indian too.”

“Well, I’m from Portland,” she added, citing the Pacific Northwest city where she was born.  “And [Three] is from Houston, and you’re from South Carolina.”

At least she has her geography straight.  It’s so much easier to answer those questions than it is the questions of just who exactly it is we are.

***

The girls love their dance classes, and since Five participated in the studio’s recital this past December both girls have a heightened awareness of the meaning of the word “recital.”  They now have firsthand knowledge of what it means to perform onstage in front of an auditorium full of people.

We allowed Five to participate in the December recital because we felt she had reached an age where she could handle being on stage and also because the cost of the costume wasn’t too prohibitive.  We had to pay $30 to rent the costume, and we didn’t mind it so much because at least we wouldn’t be saddled with something Five would wear once or, at the most, twice and then not look at again.

The dance studio has another recital at the beginning of the summer to mark the end of the academic school year, but we’ve decided neither of the girls will participate in the summer recital.  The biggest deciding factor, again, was the cost.  We would have had to pay $60 per child, and while some parents might think being able to keep the costume after that would be a good thing I know that in actuality the costumes would hang in the closet after the recital until both girls outgrew them.

While our children won’t participate in the recital, most of the others in both of their classes will.  The dance teachers have spent the last few weeks ordering costumes and making sure they fit, having the children try on the costumes and model them for the parents in the waiting area.  I’ve talked to Five about the recital and explained in a frank way it’s is too expensive.  But Three is too young at this point to understand money, its importance, and the fact that we only have so much of it to go around.  So I handled the recital talk with Three in the most mature way possible: I didn’t say anything at all to her.

About two weeks ago Three’s dance teacher brought in a collection of costumes for the students to try on—all the students, except for Three.

I observed through the open classroom door as Three sat by the wall and watched with interest, at first, what her teacher was doing.  But within a few minutes she caught on to the general scene of things and realized her teacher didn’t have a costume for her.

As a former spelling bee champion, I’ve had the opportunity to study lots of words and I thought of the perfect one for Three as I saw the look on her face: forlorn.  She felt left out and came out of the classroom to inform me that she didn’t have a costume.

“No, you don’t,” I agreed.  “But what costume did you wear for Halloween?”

“Barbie,” she said, remembering and smiling at the thought.

“Do your friends have a cool Barbie costume?”

“No,” she answered happily.  We exchanged high fives, and she skipped back into the classroom.

The costume trial session continued for about five or ten more minutes, and Three couldn’t help returning to the forlorn look.  She came back outside of the classroom.

“Mama, I’m not getting a costume,” she said, miffed.

“No, but don’t you have the cool Barbie costume from Halloween?”

She didn’t smile this time.

“Yes.”

“And who has the cool wings on the Barbie costume?”

This time she smiled.  The wings on the costume have glitter and are large enough for her to see over her shoulders if she turns her head one way or the other.

“I do.”

“And do your friends have wings?”

She shook her head and exchanged another set of high fives with me.

When we drove home she mentioned the costumes a third time but didn’t seem too concerned about it.  And we talked, yet again, about her own cool costume and how no one else had wings at all.  Wings with beautiful glitter that sparkled.  And she asked if she could wear it at Halloween, and I didn’t mind agreeing to that one bit.

Ah, misdirection, my old friend.  It’s a parent’s favorite trick.

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