The Girl Who Cried Wolf

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

The Girl who cried wolf is my eight year old daughter, Julia. Except she is not crying wolf, she is crying broken ankle. It is my best estimate that she has hummed this tune no less than half a dozen times over the last year. It is true, that it is sometimes her wrist and not her ankle. But the story is always the same. Lots of moaning, lots of hopping. A trip to the doctor only to be told it was bruised and there was nothing to do but ice it, and use it.

So you can understand why Al and I snickered and rolled our eyes as she hobbled around the house and crawled out to the car this evening, complaining about a fall on the playground.  My neighbor picked her up at school and gave her a piggy back ride out to the car.

“Sucker!” I thought to myself. “She is playing you,” I whispered under my breath.

“I don’t know, she winced when I touched the ankle,” my neighbor replied. “Call me if you decide not to send her to Hebrew School, and I will drive the carpool”

I chuckled. I know my girl. She is a thespian. Her life is a performance. “Oh, she is going to Hebrew School. No matter what!”

Of course she had no sooner arrived at Hebrew School when my cell phone rang and I heard a voice addressing me in half English and half Hebrew. What I could gather from the voice was that someone named Aviva (Julia’s Hebrew name) was complaining about her ankle and they gave her ice. This person thought it looked a little swollen.

Not wanting to make a poor impression on this person, I checked my sarcasm, and spoke with all the medical authority I could muster, “I examined her about a half hour ago. The ankle was not swollen. If she is still complaining in an hour, please call me back and I will come get her.” I knew I would be unreachable in an hour, which is how sure I was that I would not be getting another phone call.

And I didn’t, and she even hopped through the art show at night at her school, where I got some friendly but candid advice from my friends.

“Uhh… don’t you think you need to take her to doctor? That is usually the procedure with a broken ankle.”

“You’re laughing, but we are going to read about it in your blog.”

“I promise, I will grovel in my blog if this is something to write about.” I laughed, certain that the wayward ankle would be a distant memory when it came time to go to the local carnival the next night.

But the moans and groans continued way past bed time. They seemed unstoppable. So, we did what all good parents do. We decided to call her bluff.

“Get dressed; Daddy is taking you to the hospital.” (Note: I did not volunteer myself for the trip, as the last two ER trips were all mine).

Julia looked shocked. “Why? Do you really think we need to go to the hospital?”

“If you are in that much pain, of course we do,” Al said. Translation: We need to go to shut you up. It’s almost our bedtime. Further, you need to hear from a medical professional that you are a hypochondriac, not a girl with a broken ankle.

The next I heard from either one of them was when Al IM’d me

Al: Just had X-Ray.

Me: X-Ray? Did they really think that was necessary??????

Al: Level Four sprain.

Me: What the Hell does that mean?

Al: Also known as bulging fracture. Crutches. Aircast. The whole thing.

And so I grovel. I endure the taunting of my friend who called at 10:15 PM after I dashed off a frantic e-mail. “You sent her to Hebrew School,” she quipped. “What is wrong with you?” She could really barely stop laughing and her husband felt compelled to get on the phone and make some sarcastic remark about my new career as a medical doctor. But I just laughed at myself. We deserve it. And so much more. Which is why I am being extra compassionate right now by indulging Julia when she should be fast asleep and letting her practice using her crutches which she is nervous about. And I will drive her to school every day and pick her up so she doesn’t have to negotiate the bus. And I just wrote the third e-mail to her teacher, at her request, voicing the many anxieties that Julia may feel being on crutches. And next time any of my kids has even so much as a hang nail, it’s off to the ER we go. The wolf is dead in this house. She is no more.

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Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. That is a great story. I actually had to tell my daughter the old, “Boy Who Cried Wolf” story last week when she faked a stomach ache telling me that she was going to throw up (she apparently knows how I am about that and can manipulate me already at 5 years old….my shrink laughs). I made her go to school anyway, and she was fine. And I got even later when I told her that she could not go to Grandma’s just in case she was still sick. She miraculously felt better and was pretty mad at me, but that’s one for our team!!!

    Don’t feel guilty….I would have sent mine to Hebrew School too (and we are not even Jewish…ha ha). Next time I’m telling Molly your story!

  2. Your tribe is mighty; many have made those same choices and lived to grovel about it in the morning.

    A la the Scarlet Letter you could get Julia a t-shirt emblazened with “my mommy said it wasn’t hurt, but…”

    On the flip side – my 13 year old has again fractured something and waited a few days to let us know about it. For fun she practiced and competed in the long jump and hurdles two days apres “well it felt a little weird when I landed in the pit, but I did the hurdles and the 100m anyway.”

    What is the word for the anti-hypochondriac? Please advise.

    • I honestly don’t know which is worse. Either way negligence on our part or theirs, they are still hopping along with broken bones!


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