Typical or trauma?


The past week, Big D has been going to the nurse’s office daily complaining of headaches. Sometimes once, sometimes twice.

Like any parent, I try to find the right balance of compassion and realism.

I hate thinking of my precious kiddo lying in the nurse’s office hurting. I immediately want to cut out of work and rush him home to bed.

And yet, once he is home, he’s fine. Suggesting even that the nurse recommended video games to ease the pain.

Which takes us back to square one.

Is he actually having headaches? If so, what’s causing them? If not, why pretend? Is he trying to escape something? Is he being bullied by someone? The list goes on.

On its face, it seems fairly typical. And in fact it might be.

But as a foster parent, I can’t ignore the fact that it might not be.

His handsome eleven-year-old head could be trying to sort out things no eleven-year-old ever should.

While nothing has technically changed in the case, we’re pulling out long pants that were stored away since last winter. And we’re preparing for holidays that we’ve celebrated together once before. It’s lost on none of us that we’re nearing the one year mark.

That’s big and heavy in and of itself. But the elephant in the room is that the judge is due to make her permanency plan for Big D at one year. And he knows it.

He might not know exactly what that means. Frankly, some days, I’m not sure I do. But he has hopes and dreams and worries and fears for what it might mean.

The tension is more than enough to cause a migraine. And so I pause, adding more questions to my search for this problem’s root.

So it is in foster care. Always the possibility that this issue, behavior, attitude, or symptom isn’t typical, it’s trauma.

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