My younger son has always been somewhat of a drama king whenever it comes to some minor little ailment. When he was little, a scratch small enough to require a magnifying glass to see was a major ordeal, requiring a band-aid and lots of “poor babies.” A bump or bruise could give him reason to whine for sympathy for days on end. When he was about three, he went around saying his trachea hurt. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about pains in various body parts, but never one in the trachea. I sincerely doubt he even knew where his trachea was.
For some reason, when he was about eight, he escalated into “attacks.” He would deliberately act as if he couldn’t catch his breath, hyperventilating and making dying moose noises. His father and I would just tell him to knock it off, which generally stopped the “episodes.” If he still persisted, I would tell him the way to stabilize his breathing was to run as fast as he could for as long as he could until he was better. Back then he believed everything that came out of my mouth, so this usually worked. Then his third grade teacher emailed us saying he had done this at school and frightened her to death. I wrote back, assuring her he was not dying, and suggested ways to “deal” with his attention-seeking drama. She was immensely relieved and amused at the same time. He also put on a “performance” at his piano lesson, which had nothing to do with his music.
Finally, I had had it. As he complained about all his physical maladies, I told him, “Honey, you have hypochondria.” He was thrilled to have a real medical term for his vast ailments. For at least two years after that, whenever people would get irritated by his dramatics, he would rise to his own defense by declaring, “I can’t help it! I have hypochondria!” He had no idea why this was so amusing to other people. When he finally found out what the word “hypochondria” meant, he was not happy with me, to say the least.
It was my older son, however, who put me in my place where his healthcare was concerned. He, too, was a bit of a drama king when he was little. When he was about three, he got a little boo-boo of some kind.
“I need to go see Dr. Rigby,” he told me. Dr. Rigby was his beloved pediatrician who made chirping bird noises when he looked in his patients’ ears.
I replied, “Oh, honey, I don’t think that’s serious enough to bother Dr. Rigby about. Besides, Mommy is a doctor. I can take care of it.”
“You’re not a doctor,” he shot back. “You’re a veterinarian!”
Ouch! Out of the mouths of babes!