5 year old comes to me, wailing, limping.  She sits down before me with brimming eyes, holding out a leg to me. Same leg she cried over two days ago, hurting then with something mysterious, unseeable to my eye or my inquiring fingertips.

Today again, same leg offered.  “It hurts from here up to here”  –a gesture from toe to thigh.   Most of her leg.  Why the ache?  Same leg as before.   Could something serious be wrong?   More than growing pains?  Something internal?  Bone-deep?  Blood-deep?   Was I wrong the other day to kiss and hug and pat her bum and send her off to play again, telling her she is fine?   What if she is not fine?


What if..?

And in five beats of my mother-heart I am imagining Goliath- shadows.  Words, possibilities I don’t want to allow past my lips–  threatening my precious child.

I gather her close and scoodge up her pants leg to examine the length of her little brown leg. Scuff mark just above the knee.  Not invisible after all.   Not this time anyway.

“What happened?” I ask.

“The laundry basket fell down on it, and it hurts!” she howls, crumpling into my arms in a little bundle, her cries suddenly seeming to my mom-ears a bit forced. Dramatic.

Hmm.   She was sent to her room to fold clothes.  Not her favorite task.

Her next words support my suspicion. Pitifully:  “Can [big brother] come help me with my clothes?”

A rush of relief fills me to realize we’re dealing with garden-variety hurt, garden-variety attempts at work avoidance.

I hug her.   Kiss the hurt.  Wipe the tears.  Stand her up and swat her bum gently and send her back to finish the work.  She walks, reluctant but limp-free.

My world settles back into place.

I can breathe again.


  1. Oh, I have had those moments!! So glad that was all it was!
    Love your blog, btw, and love both your books, too!!

  2. My four year old daughter tells me frequently that her legs hurt when she walks – when she’s supposed to be helping with a chore. Hmm. :0)

  3. Ha, ha. Kids are hilarious. I can’t wait til my little one starts with the limping and crocodile tears.

  4. Thank heaven’s it is just chore avoidance! I love little kids… they are very creative. They boggle my mind.

  5. My 8 yr old complained of excruciating pain in her leg off and on for a while and I shrugged it off. I even posted on my blog about phantom pains, they come and go. It turned out to be nothing, but my mom hassled me until I took her to the doctor who then ordered a $600 blood test. Three hrs later we found out exactly what I thought all along. It was nothing. Don’t you hate it when you don’t just trust your instincts?

  6. Owlhaven – I read your blog all the time but I have never posted before. My 8 year old daughter too has complained at times about pains in her legs. I always dismissed them as nothing serious until last winter when she could barely walk one day. I had her tested but they never found out what it was. This month it happened again. I took her to the Doctor and after an examination and some blood work I was told that she had “Benign acute childhood myositis” – google it. Has your daughter had the flu lately?

  7. The adrenaline rushes through us and then it drops, the joy of kids and what they can do to our heart strings and our insides! But sadly it is like a drug and we are addicted to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Glad she is fine and just trying to get out of work! Although my 4yr complains of a stomach ache most mornings and again at night at dinner, I have put it down to hunger but like you always have these other thoughts racing through my head, thinking how stupid it would look if anything ever came up for a nurse to have ignored her sons complaints!

  8. Phew!
    Heehee- caught ya lil, girlfriend!
    Glad it was nothing- but that doesn’t mean we won’t jump again next time, eh?
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    -A new fan

  9. I think we all get those fears when we lightheartedly brush off their pains.

    My eldest is constantly waking up tired (but can’t go to sleep any earlier), wants to stay home from school about once a week and then plays all day as if nothing is wrong. She loves school, so it’s no school avoidance. I’ve come to the conclusion that adolescence is not far away. I hope that’s all it is. (Not that puberty is a little thing!)

  10. Oh, I’d hoped nurses didn’t struggle with that. I guess I don’t need to go back to school then.

  11. I have given you a blog award! Come by to pick it up if you like!

  12. Oh! Don’t you just love moments like that?! *wink*

  13. My first visit to your site, you have melted my heart. i remeber the mommy moments, at this stage in my life where I wait impatiently for the grandma moments.
    read your post to my own mother, who is firmly enscounced in grandma-hood, and gave a most grandma-like answer, ‘she had to fold clothes with her leg hurt? poor dear,that’s not right…’ ROTFLMBO

  14. Scary moment – glad she just didn’t want to do her chore.