Conversations with My Asthma Tween
Let me tell you a little bit about the stage I’ve reached with my kid.
First off, a little recent background:
My mother came to Colorado for Thanksgiving, meaning I hosted for everyone this year. During that same holiday week, AG had one of the leading roles in her school musical. (There may be video. Eventually.) True to her personal history of illness, though, she got sick and actually missed her final dress rehearsal the Friday before the play.
But she rested, the performance went off without a hitch, AG sang beautifully, and the holiday approached.
Then on Thanksgiving Day and with a house full of family, she started getting sick again. We’re just talking about a cold here, but it’s a bad one. When the Sidekick had it, she missed a few days of school. I lost my voice for four days, and I’m still doing a little sporadic, residual coughing three weeks later.
This week, AG is still battling that cold and Outdoor Lab looms. She leaves in a week and a half and no, I’m not lying awake half the night with worry and insomnia yet, but I can feel them both lurking and waiting to sabotage me. Though I suppose I might surprise myself and stay sane the week she’s gone. Stranger things have happened.
Point being, that trip into the Rockies is feeding my current obsession to keep her lungs healthy. Which explains why I kept her home from school skate night yesterday. And also: this weekend already looks packed full with other hectic lung-taxing activities, both family-related and non.
Oh and did I mention she’s still coughing, still badly congested, and skate night occurred the day after her weekly volleyball practice? The practice that lasts until 9:30 on a school night? So she already hadn’t slept much?
None of these factors, of course, prevented her multiple attempts to convince me to let her go yesterday. Because she is 11.
AG: Everyone was talking about skate night at school today. EVERYONE. Everyone gets to go but me.
Me: Really? Everyone? How about ________ ? Her mom never lets her go to the skating rank.
AG: Yeah, but that doesn’t count because she’s never allowed.
Me: How about _________ ? I know he can’t go, either.
AG: Well, no. He’s not going, but still! Everyone else is.
Me: Even _________ ?
AG: Um. No. She can’t, either.
She and I covered so many variations on this theme yesterday, it took a superb effort and massive amount of willpower not to start yelling at her. Because I understand: nobody likes to miss parties or nights out because of illness. Add asthma in on top of that – something she didn’t ask for, doesn’t deserve, and can’t get rid of, no matter how much she wants to – and it’s JUST NOT FAIR, MOM.
It’s not fair, and the skating rink is a big deal in sixth grade, when you’re too old to play with your sister all day long but too young for a driver’s license and full independence.
I can’t lie. In similar kid/parent negotiations, sometimes I can be swayed. Sometimes, despite my best intentions, one of the girls makes a particularly good case for herself and I am swayed. Not this time, though, because the Asthma + December Outdoor Lab situation enhanced my natural stubborn streak. It’s not the first time my authority’s had to supercede my popularity with my children.
“Remember the whole thing about your airways possibly being a little inflamed because of the cold, even if you feel okay right now?” I said. “Plus the staying up in the snowy mountains without your parents thing? And the coming back from Outdoor Lab right before Christmas and not wanting to be sick on Christmas thing?”
“Yeah,” she said. Sullen. Teenager-ish. Scowling. The whole works.
She does understand, though. If she heads to Outdoor Lab later this month on the tail end of – or recovering from – a flare, she could end up having problems in the mountains and miss something terribly exciting with her friends.
Something more special and amazing than the local skating rink which, after all, is only 10 minutes down the road.
Something she’ll never do in her everyday life because she’ll never go back to Outdoor Lab. She’ll never be in sixth grade again, never get this place and these experiences with this exact group of friends again.
Something she’ll remember forever since Outdoor Lab is a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
I’m grateful for these conversations, actually, even after the sixth or seventh time. Someday I won’t have them with her anymore because she’ll be too old and stop listening. She’ll move away and make her own health decisions without me, and I’ll be biting my lip and trying to trust her good judgment, quietly freaking out as I relinquish control.