There are things I understand about genes, and other things I don’t. Like, I understand that I can make a clover with my tongue because I have a pair of recessive genes which allow me to do so, and I also understand that I have hazel eyes because I have one BROWN eye gene and one BLUE eye gene. I understand that each of my children have half their genes in common with me, and so theoretically that means we will have many things in common. I even understand that some recessive genetic things will cause my children to be very different than I am.
But I do not understand the recessive bionic gene.
Okay; it’s probably not a gene. Or even, necessarily, a group of genes. But I still don’t understand it.
And after 9+ years of living with it, it still surprises me each and every time.
Here is what happens to me, when I am sick: I whine. And fall into bed. Or if I’m already in bed, I refuse to get out. Or I get out, but I complain about it. A LOT. I know that you are EXTREMELY SHOCKED to learn that I’m a whiner when I’m sick, but yeah. I don’t like being sick and I have this whole sharing-my-feelings thing going on, and so there you have it.
Here is what happens to my ex, when he is sick: He is more stoic than I am. He might complain, a little, but for the most part he just gets up and meets his responsibilities and saves the whining for after everything has been done. He’s not bionic, but he’s a lot less whiny than I am.
Between those two gene pools, we have somehow bred a Bionic Monkey. Recessive genes? Chemical X? Freak radioactive spider bite? We may never know, but here we are. Because here is what happens when Monkey gets sick: Absolutely nothing.
Well, not NOTHING. But nothing a normal person would identify as dealing with illness.
Part of the follow-up to Monkey’s terrible, horrible, no good very bad day at school was that I had to talk to the school about what might have set him off, and how we could avoid such an incident in the future. See, Monkey’s sensory issues mean that he has a 504 Plan and lots of people who are ready and willing to help him cope with all of the sorts of things that regular kids don’t need help with, but that send Monkey into a tizzy. The problem was, everyone agreed that there had been “nothing” that looked like a sensory overload situation that day.
And I had to be “that mom,” the one that maybe they think is a little nutty and overprotective, and explain that Monkey’s allergies are really bothering him. No one laughed or rolled their eyes (that I noticed), but I could tell they were wondering if I’d finally gone ’round the bend.
But I hadn’t. See, Monkey’s head has been all cloggy and we’re doing allergy meds and the Neti pot and decongestants, and the kid was feeling positively miserable, as one would naturally feel if one’s head was packed full of goo. But because Monkey is bionic, that meant that if you said to him, “Hey, dude—how’re you feeling?” his answer would always be, “Fine.”
He wasn’t fine, but in the developmental parlance he is “somewhat impaired in identifying feelings of discomfort as such,” and “a poor communicator when it comes to explaining his physical experience.” Or, you know, he’s just bionic.
So we’ve been doing the whole routine of all the aforementioned stuff, and as the week wore on the kid just looked worse and worse. When he came home from school on Monday afternoon, he dragged his backpack behind him and his face was pale and his eye sockets were two giant purple bruises. “Wow, Buddy, you feeling okay?” I asked him, trying to keep the alarm out of my voice.
“Yeah, I’m fine. What’s for snack?” he answered.
He perked up after some graham crackers and milk, so I reminded myself that he’s bionic and probably okay, but when he ASKED to go to bed early that night, I could deny it no longer. The kid was sick, for sure. (Throughout the last few days, I’ve taken his temperature a half-dozen times. He’s never had a fever. You know, due to the whole bionic thing.)
So yesterday morning we went straight to the doctor, first thing, and Monkey spent the car ride complaining that HE WAS MISSING MATH. Ooooookay.
When we finally made it into the exam room, I explained that I was pretty sure he’d developed a sinus infection. Maybe we could just get an antibiotic and be on our way? First there were a number of questions for my boy. Like, “Have you experienced a loss of appetite?” (Monkey answered in the affirmative
Because Monkey ALSO has an ear infection.
Yeah. Um. Have you ever had a kid with an ear infection? The pre-verbal ones scream continuously, and the ones old enough to talk will tell you “MY EAR! MY EAR! MY EARITHURTSSOMUCHMAKEITSTOP!” Unless they are Monkey, in which case the whole bionic thing prevents them from ever saying a single word about their ears. Which are also bionic.
So the doctor finally gave us a prescription for Zithromax, and I was sitting there silently wondering if I could take Monkey to school, because he had no fever and was still saying he felt “fine,” but I didn’t want to ask because what sort of horrible mother sends her kid to school with an ear infection and a sinus infection?
“Excuse me, Doctor?” The doctor turned away from his notes back to Monkey, who was—I swear to you—politely raising his hand. “Would it be okay for me to go to school now? I already missed math, but if we go now I can probably get there in time for science.” I stifled a giggle as the doctor raised his eyebrows at me.
We were given the green light to go pick up his meds, give him the first dose, and send him on to school. So that’s what we did.
Except we also stopped for a donut, because even Bionic Monkeys deserve a chocolate glazed after having their brains swabbed.