Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why Can't I Act Like A Child?

I consider it a huge blessing that Ellie is generally as healthy as one could wish for their 5-year-old. It's rare that she has more than mild cold symptoms. 

But watching her when she's not feeling well, I wonder why sick kids act so differently than sick adults. 

Scott theorizes that it's because kids haven't learned self-pity yet. 

But Ellie is so melodramatic in her normal life about every little thing she thinks is bad or unfair that happens to her (or anyone else, for that matter!), I'm not sure I buy that theory.

I know running a fever feels cruddy no matter how old you are. And while Ellie is certainly more clingy and less energetic when she's sick, she still totally gets into playing and pretty much acting like a normal preschooler. 

On Saturday, she spent a chunk of the afternoon drawing and coloring butterflies, and then cutting them out. (Using a scissors is very exciting these days, and Ellie has gotten pretty darn good at it.) She still played with her collection of My Little Ponies, and had her markers hold a debate with each other. 

Other than going to bed a bit early, and perhaps sleeping a little later than normal in the morning, her sick days look an awful lot like her healthy days. If anything, it's our reaction to her that changes more than her behavior: We're a lot more likely to approve more television watching than normal when she's sick, and we're more likely to pamper her.

I know there's a huge difference between a brief acute illness, like a bad cold or flu bug, and debilitating chronic illness. But I find myself envying how little she allows feeling sick to affect her life. She doesn't curl up on the couch under a blanket or stay in bed with a book and some favorite toys. She just keeps being a kid and doing a kid's full-time job, which is learning through the work of play. 

Now if only I could figure out a way to translate her example into my situation ...

1 comment:

tim's wife said...

I don't think kids ache when they get a fever for the most part. I believe that's largely why they can act pretty normal. Adults usually ache like crazy. It's also pretty easy not to get too down about illnesses that are gone and forgotten in a few days.
Chronic illness can get to anyone.
It's hard to keep your chin up year after year.
another mom who has a chronic,
un and mis-diagnosed illness and got diagnosed and just started to get better only to have her husband diagnosed with an uncurable cancer at 43. I'd like to be a kid again too.