I remember being thrilled when my son was a baby and started to become verbal. He could tell me what hurt where, what didn't feel right, and so on. As a teenager, he almost seems to have lost that
ability (unless it's really, really bad). He's cool, smooth, and nothing bothers him - and, of course, he knows more than me. I'm just a silly grown-up. So when I heard him wheeze the other day,
and started grilling him on how long he had been wheezing, had he been using his inhaler, and, several times, why hadn't he told me he was symptomatic so we could evaluate whether it was time to
get him back on maintenance meds? He just shrugged, "Mom, I'm fine." Teenagers.
We're extremely lucky that my son's asthma is not as bad as it could be, but he still needs to be on maintenance meds about half the year. He has a food allergy, too, that he needs to make others aware of at times. Have I managed his issues too well so he doesn't take them seriously? Not well enough? I don't know.
As our son has reached adolescence, he spends more time not in our direct presence. He's at school or sports or a friend's house - or we as parents are tending to his siblings. He necessarily must
take a little more ownership and responsibility for his health conditions; it's part of growing up. But not actually acting responsibly with that ownership seems to be part of growing up, too, and
a very common issue in adolescents
Because we've been dealing with this for a while, he knows the routine. We know he knows - and he knows we know that he knows. So why does he dismiss symptoms, even ones he knows will just get worse? It's all about growing up and the necessary pushing away of the parents. Just with higher immediate consequences. At least he's trying out this response when he knows there is still a safety net to catch him.
As much as we have tried to downplay our son's differences from his friends who don't have such things to worry about, now may be the time to talk them up a bit. Sure he can do all the things his peers can do - he just can't do them without having an inhaler and his EpiPen nearby. I understand that he doesn't want to be different from his friends - at all - but he is different in this way, and he does need to come to terms with that. Difference is not such a bad thing, we tell him, and wouldn't the world be boring if everyone were the same? He shrugs (predictably).
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