When children have experienced a life threatening event there’s a tendency for those who care about them to become overly lenient in their expectations, and to indulge them more than they normally would. Sick kids get away with doing, or not doing, a lot of the things that would never fly prior to their down time. They are pampered and coddled and enabled. Sick kid perks.
While she was away at the hospital, Lia managed to convince her parents and medical team that she could no longer walk, feed herself, or use a toilet. My heart sank when I heard the news of her new limitations.
Lia, on the other hand, seemed to be perfectly content with the new status quo. After returning home she immediately began commanding her court from the comfort of her bed, and she refused to be enticed to willingly leave her throne for any reason. I have always been of the opinion that Lia probably should have been born into royalty, and live in a castle with Lady’s Maids and Butlers to wait on her hand and foot. She really enjoys that kind of stuff. And I felt so sorry for her, being so helpless and weak.
At first, I fell right in line with the rest of Lia’s minions. I waited on her hand and foot. I was her Lady’s Maid. She had everything she wanted and needed delivered to her, and once again, she made her puppets dance. There was no reason for her to ever leave her fortress on Mattress Island.
By day two of our reunion, I started to wonder why she could no longer do the things she had done before. She was still able to assume her lotus sitting position, she could grab onto her bedrails and hold on tightly, she could turn herself from side to side and reposition at will, so why couldn’t she get out of bed or feed herself. There was a mystery afoot and I needed to get to the bottom of it.
In time, as I continued to watch and assess and interact, I started to realize little Miss Lia was malingering. Perhaps that’s too strong. Perhaps she just saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. But that makes it appear as though she had a calculated plan to get everybody around her to serve her every whim. And I don’t think she’s being calculated at all. She was indulged, and she happily accepted. Sick kid perks.
I wanted to test my theory, so I started by offering Lia a bowl of her favorite food. When I made no effort to feed it to her, she prompted me. I told her she would have to feed herself. She protested a little and then waited for me to change my mind. When that didn’t happen, she picked up her spoon and fed herself. I tried to pretend that it was no big deal, that she was just doing what she’s supposed to do. But that was BIG!
Next, I made a plan to gauge her ability to walk. I realized being incapacitated for such a long time would leave her weak, but I needed to know whether I was dealing with “can’t” or “won’t”.
My opportunity came when Lia decided she wanted to spend some quality time with Mom. She had been calling repeatedly for her mother to come into her room. I asked Mom not to comply. Instead, I told Lia she would need to get out of bed and into her wheelchair so that I could take her to see her Mom. Once again, she protested the change in her routine and being denied her royal request. Mom called to Lia from another room and asked Lia to come for a visit. After some deep consideration, Lia started to scoot over to the edge of the bed where I assisted her to stand and take the few steps to her wheelchair. That was REALLY BIG!
Granted, Lia’s muscles are much weaker than before her illness, but sitting in bed all day does nothing to change that. I was thrilled to find that her lack of activity isn’t because she can’t, it’s just that she won’t – at least, not without considerable coaxing.
Lia has made it known that she isn’t going to give up her sick kid perks willingly. But, now that we know better, it’s time to prepare for the journey of reinstating and rebuilding. I’m going to go rub my lamp and see if the nursing genie has any ideas.