Please keep your tongue to yourself

By Mir
November 11, 2009

Chickadee has been malingering. Except malingering is really the wrong word, because I do think she’s sick… or sickISH… certainly she’s just plain not feeling great; but given her bent towards the DRAH-MAH and the fact that MALINGERING just tastes exactly like what she’s been doing—dragging herself around, looking all peaked and weary—I stand by my original verb choice. Last night in addition to the “my throat is sore” complaint that’s been around for a couple of weeks, she started adding in “my ear hurts,” and I could avoid it no longer: Today I took her to the doctor.

We waited for approximately three years (no, no I don’t have ANY IDEA where she gets that penchant for melodrama, why do you ask?) and then we were placed in a room and she was poked by a medical assistant. We waited a couple of more years and then the doctor came in and did the doctorly sorts of things one does.

He then declared that her throat wasn’t particularly red, her ear looked perfectly fine, she had no fever, and could I think of any reason why she maybe would want to stay home from school?

Chickadee got pretty upset, at that point. The truth is that she’s has PLENTY of reasons to want to avoid school in the last couple of months, but now everything is fine, and in the meantime, she feels crummy and was afraid I would accuse her of faking. I’m still a little perplexed (who says their ear hurts when the ear looks fine…?), but I also know my kid, and I believe she’s truly unwell. It seems like she’s been fighting off the same cold for close to a month, now. Enough’s enough.

So I (gently) offered that she’s been running a fever on and off (she has), and her appetite is off and she seems tired all the time, and was it possible she had some low-level virus or something?

At that point, the doctor looked over her chart, looked at Chickadee again, and announced he was going to test her for mono “just to be safe.”

“Young lady,” he said, looking her in the eye, voice stern, “have you been kissing any boys?”

Now, part of me was indignant. My child is ELEVEN. Furthermore, despite the “kissing disease” nickname of it, there are plenty of ways to get mono besides smooching, and a DOCTOR of all people should know that.

The other part of me nearly ruptured several critical organs while trying not to laugh at Chickie’s reaction. She flushed about four different shades of color while sputtering out a horrified, “NO!” I probably shouldn’t be taking such delight in my kid’s embarrassment, but… what can I say, it was pretty funny. In Chickadee-world, right now the proper way to express even a faint interest in a boy is to STAUNCHLY PRETEND HE DOES NOT EXIST, which seems to rule out any possibility of her having locked lips with, well, anyone.

The doctor typed some stuff, thought some more, and decided to test her for strep and get a blood count, too, just to cover all the bases, and while I appreciate his thoroughness, Chickadee was less than impressed with being gagged with a Q-tip and then stuck with a needle.

We came home and I put her to bed with Licorice, and I haven’t seen either of them for hours. If she’s faking, she’s also faking taking a three-hour nap. And that’s dedication. Or a mighty attempt at covering up what (or whom) she’s been licking, lately.


  1. RuthWells


    Earlier this week, my 11-year-old announced at the dinner table that some of the girls at school had had a hugging contest, to see who could hug the most boys.

    My boy got hugged once.

    He turned puce at the telling.

  2. Paula

    She’s lucky to have you for a mommy! My niece had mono last spring and she felt generally crummy for many weeks on end. I hope you get to the bottom of this quickly and hurray for the three hour nap!

  3. Courtney

    My allergies make me feel the Chickadee does, sore throat, ear aching some of the time, and just wiped out.

  4. daisy

    If those tests don’t turn up anything you might consider a dentist. I once had a “sinus infection” treated multiple times over a YEAR before I went to a dentist and it was discovered I had a tooth abcess and that’s why I had such terrible ear pain. This was AFTER I was sent to an ear specialist…

  5. Jamie

    Bummer Chickie’s feeling so blah. Hopefully they can get to the bottom of whatever it is. This will teach her to even think about kissing boys! :)

  6. Little Bird

    I’ve had mono, it sucks. Big time. It also can start out just the way you’ve described her symptoms. When she’s too tired to get up to pee, not to the point of peeing in bed, but too tired to pee at all, then you KNOW it’s mono!

  7. Meri

    I remember that stage. I didn’t really get over it until I was about to go to college. I think my parents were mighty relieved.

  8. Katherine

    You want an embarrassed middle-schooler? Try being asked if there is any chance you are pregnant??? I had that asked of me as about a 12 year old, when I had to get a 2nd dose of MMR vaccine. I was mortified! Like Chickie, I was unwilling to admit to any interest in boys and had never even kissed one.

  9. kakaty

    I remember having mono in the 8th grade. For weeks I felt tired and unwell but being the (overly dramatic) youngest of 3 my parents ignored me. It was the day I came home from school and promplty took a nap on the floor in the entryway that my mom finally took me to an after-hours clinic. I was (without a swab) diagnosed with strep throat and given penicillin whic reacted with the Mono I actually had and made me break out in a measles-like rash. Can I just say I was DELIGHTED when my mom freaked out over the rash? Because if she had just listened to me for the previous few weeks she would have known I was sick. Anyway…mono – it sucks becuase you don’t feel sick-sick, just tired and crappy. I missed about 3 weeks of school and endured countless “who have you been kissing?” jokes. Hope she feels better soon.

  10. Frank

    Mono can be funny at times, though. I had it while at college. It wiped out a whole semester (I got a medical withdrawal so it didnt count against me grade-wise). Funny part was, my GF at the time didnt get it, and I felt rundown crummy for a few weeks before I went in to get checked.
    I dont remember a whole lot… it was a lot of days of:
    – get up for 2 classes starting at 8AM… sleep thru them (while at the class… Freshman lecture hall classes let you do that)
    – early lunch…. to the dorm and asleep by 12
    – sleep thru afternoon class
    – up at 5 for dinner… back to sleep by 7
    – rinse, lather, repeat….
    Hope it is NOT that, and that she gets to feeling better.

  11. Leila

    Hey, it sounds like she caught this from me but oh wait, I haven’t been near her. They stabbed me yesterday and my blood is on its way to some lab. Hopefully, they won’t find anything too scary.

    I wonder why they didn’t test me for mono, or ask me if I’ve been kissing anyone lately??? I could have told them a thing or two. :)

    My son had mono when he was in kindergarten, and he missed his graduation. I’m pretty sure that the doctor didn’t ask him that question.

    I hope that she feels better soon. Try chicken soup. Maybe you need to add a cat to your menagerie. I can send nurse Cooper Cat your way.

  12. Heidi

    Oof to what what Daisy said (so-called sinus infection was actually a tooth abscess): I was treated with anibiotics off an on for over a year for an ear infection–which in fact was TMJ (thank you, wise dentist).

    Which has nothing to do with Chickadee, except I’ve had mono and I’m really quite sure she doesn’t want it. But I hope they figure SOMETHING out, because whatever is going on has probably been feeding her touchiness. No one likes feeling crummy.

  13. Megan

    Ah yes. I had the Child of Very Great Drama, who naturally was also the Child of Exceptionally Low Pain Tolerance (and the Child Who Admired Its Tears in the Mirror) and man was it fun trying to sort out whether something was genuine illness, illness due to Trouble at School or just illness due to boredom. I’m the Spartan mum so the poor kid was, more often than not, summarily packed off to school! Sure, I regret that NOW… a little… sometimes… but at the time?

  14. ChristieNY

    can’t help but giggle! you’re such a good mama. hoping chickie feels better asap!

  15. Michelle

    Oh yeah, the fun questions when you’re a pre-teen with mono. The first time I had mono, I was in 7th grade and just felt blah. No fever, just wrong and tired. They took blood, said mono, and told me to stay in bed, due to the swollen SPLEEN. I missed 6 weeks of school.

    Then when I was in 8th grade, the mono brought bronchitis, tonsilitis, and every other upper -itis. I missed the last three months of school. And had to endure the agony of having a teen pregnancy hotline call my house. While my parents were home. Prompting a “talk” from my father. All of this when I hadn’t ever even held hands with a boy, much less anything else! All in all it’s probably a good thing that I never found out who decided that pregnancy was the reason I was out of school. On the plus side, at least they didn’t stick the Q-tip thingy in my throat to test for strep! Poor Chickie!

  16. el-e-e

    Ooh! Intrigue! Sure adds to the typical “sick kid” posts that have been going around the Internet (myself included). ;)

    Hope she doesn’t have mono, or anything else serious for that matter.

  17. Meredith

    My 9 year old has mono (pretty sure she hasn’t been kissing anyone). Someday’s she’s fine, other’s she’s wiped out when she gets home from school, and other days, like today, she just wasn’t up to the whole school thing.

  18. Nicki

    May you find a cause for her malingering soon. And if you find a cure for drama-princess-itis, let me know. We still only have room for one drama queen in my house, and I hold that title, thank you very much.

  19. Heather

    I remember being 12ish and at the hospital for an x-ray and being asked when my last period started in FRONT OF MY FATHER. Even worse was that the correct answer was “this morning” and I was just horrified to have to say that out loud.

  20. Flea

    So they didn’t give you the results? Maybelline had mono last winter and it was a 10 minute wait for results. Got a great blackmail photo of the middle finger that was pricked for the test. Sounds like mono’s probably the culprit. I was pleased that it wasn’t as big a deal as everyone had made it out to be.

  21. mamabird

    I had mono when I was in grade 10 and it sucked. Messed up sleeping schedule and missed a lot of school. I hope Chickadee doesn’t have it.

  22. Julie in Austin

    It sounds a bit like what my 14 year old has been struggling with. He had a terrible sore throat, intermittent ear pain, and a bad headache. Also lie-down-on-the-floor-and-sleep exhaustion. For over three weeks and counting! It is not mono, nor strep, nor (thank God) Lupus, nor any bacterial infection (we know this from multible cbc blood tests). He has also had a CAT scan of his head looking for sinus trouble or tumors or other scary things. Nothing. Recent tests show normal thyroid function, as well as good liver and kidney functions. We have seen the pediatrician 6 times and the ENT twice. No one knows what is going on. The incredibly painful dime-sized ulceration in his throat responded to prednasone so he is at least not in constant terrible pain anymore. He is still taking 2 advil plus 2 tylenol every 6 hours to be able to tolerate his headache, and sleeping like crazy. The doctors are stumped and for now we are assuming he has some mysterious, nasty, long-lived virus. Poor sweet boy! I’m terribly worried about him! Mir, I hope your sweet feisty daughter gets better SOON!!!!!

  23. Aisha

    I’ve been dealing with a variety of icks this quarter, it has SUCKED. But one of the most frustrating parts has been the factory-like quality of the student health clinic and the fact that EVERYONE has been going in if they have the smallest sniffle this quarter, means that my issues have been kinda over-looked. I’m going back on Friday for some cultures/blood draws, assuming they can get me in.

    Hope Chickie starts feeling better soon and you all figure out what’s wrong! :)

  24. Lori N

    I hope Chickadee feels better soon!

    A friend of mine’s daughter was just diagnosed with mono, strep, H1N1 and conjunctivitis. You’d think with a dx like that the kid would feel like death warmed over, but nope! She was just feeling “off”.

  25. Debra

    Unfortunately Mir, the doctor was only half joking when he asked Chickie if she had kissed any boys lately. We diagnosed a 12 year with chlamydia in my office just this week (I’m the lab tech) and yes, it was consensual. :(

  26. Lindy

    I suggest going to Chik-Fil-A and getting them to mix the chocolate and cookies-and-cream milkshakes (they’ll do it if you bat your eyelashes just right), and extra whip cream. That fixes everything. Really.

  27. mamalang

    Perhaps a test for Lyme disease as well? I’ve had Mono, and also felt like death for approximately 8 mazillion years (okay, 4-5 weeks, same thing), but the turning point was when I called my mom from school to come get me. I hadn’t missed a day in several years at that point, and she knew something was wrong. But my 11 year old had lyme disease last year, and had some of the same symptoms.

    Good luck, feeling crummy and not knowing why sure does make you feel crummier.

  28. Damsel

    It is only to the creativity and dedication of my high school English teacher that I remember what “malingering” even means… she referenced Klinger from MASH, and reminded us all about how he was forever trying different schemes to get out of the Army. So now, I always picture him in a dress and heels when I think of malingering.

    And, not at all as a side note, I hope that Chickadee feels better really soon!

  29. Karate Mom

    Ooo, hope she feels better soon, and that you get some answers.

  30. Debbi

    Hope she feels better soon and you get an answer!

  31. Katie in MA

    Ohhhhhhh. I’ve been away, enjoying a visit from my sister. Your quip at Want Not makes SO MUCH more sense now!

  32. Amy-Go

    Sure sounds like Mono to me. BLECH. Poor chickie!

  33. Veronica

    Ah yes see, I’m pretty sure you can also catch mono by sharing drinks, or lollipops, or things like that too no? It definitely sounds like it.

  34. Daisy

    Isn’t it insulting when you finally get to the clinic after ruling out everything a mom can diagnose, and the doc (or asst) disses you like that? I’m assertive, too; if the kid’s ear hurts, he means something’s up. If the other kid’s complaining of sinus pain, she’s already waited the prerequisite two weeks. Give her the Z-pak already.

  35. Kaleigh

    Um, maybe PMS? My daughter turns completely useless a few days before her period, and she was 11 when she started. (And by useless I mean tired, grumpy, malingering, peaked, weary, and oh, with the weepy).

    Hate to add that as a possibility, but it’s our reality.

    And even more awesome when she and I cycle the same week.

  36. Cheryl

    I was feeling generally unwell and went back to the doctor this week. My throat hurts, my ears hurt, and I just feel icky. It turned out that my ears and throat are fine, but I have a UTI. The body can be odd sometimes at how it manifests an illness.

    I hope she’s feeling better soon.

  37. lizneust

    Poor Chickie. I hope she feels better soon. I had mono when I was 14 and it was truly yucky.

    When I was 12, I was sitting in the living room, talking to my parents about something, and all of a sudden my Dad says, “Barbara, that child needs to start wearing a bra.” I blushed sixteen shades of red and blurted out, “but I AM wearing one.” And then I fled. Dad and I didn’t make eye contact for the rest of the day. That memory still makes me wince.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest