by Judy Converse, MPH RD LD
When it comes to this topic of chronically ill kids, do you have moments that pierce the bubble of consciousness and take your breath away?
I was waiting to board an early flight to Denver recently, sipping a bracing hot cup of black tea, when I witnessed a scene that would’ve stopped parents from 1975 in their tracks.
An overweight boy of about eleven years was speaking in stilted singsong as he furiously scissored his fingers close to his eyes. He hummed and rocked in an effort to whitewash the crowds, loudspeakers, beeping carts, and blaring TV monitors. Meantime, his younger sister ping-ponged around the gate area, pulling on other kids, jumping off furniture and squealing loudly. Their harried father, his tone quiet and steady, stuck close to his vulnerable son while he attempted, with little success, to lasso his daughter by voice alone.
Well versed by now in juggling his kids, he was a cool cucumber. I wondered how. This could make any parent crack, sigh, or drop head to hands in despair. But no. This was his normal. Nobody in the gate area raised an eyebrow.
Another family sat across from me. Their oldest girl, about five years old, was bald with hollow eyes. Her pink, sparkly headband, festooned with a sequined daisy, screamed cancer even louder than her fog grey pallor.
The cancer parents wore a veneer of happy calm that seemed a little deeper than just …veneer. What else is a parent to do in the face of losing a child? So here was their normal: A sickly daughter who may live, or not. Cancer specialist visits. Pink headbands. Nobody in the gate area blinked.
Our kids are sicker than ever
Autism. ADHD. Cancer. One full jet, ten kids boarding, three with serious, life-threatening conditions. I had a morbid “Would You Rather” moment.
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