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Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa and Adenoids

Jonah is having a few medical issues that have been bothering him for many months. He has recurrent strep throat and is constantly sick with one virus or another. He snores, and breathes through his mouth all of the time, which causes his lips to be raw. His tonsils are huge and he's always stuffy. He has intestinal and tummy issues multiple times every day. Taking him off dairy, changing his multivitamin and pumping him full of probiotics didn't change anything. So we decided enough was enough. This was a week of doctor's appointments for our guy.

He saw the allergist, who ruled out allergies. In fact, he may not even be allergic to peanuts anymore! We'll get a blood test to definitively figure that out. The allergist recommended seeing our ENT to rule out reflux. I already had an appointment with the ENT for Jonah's tonsil issue. We saw our ENT, who has taken care of us since the boys were in the NICU 10 years ago. He looked at Jonah's tonsils and adenoids were quite enlarged, and given his mouth breathing and snoring, should be removed. He stuck a camera down Jonah's nose and said there was no evidence of reflux, so that was good. 

The next day we saw our pediatric gastroenterologist, who made baby Ella's life a much more comfortable place to be when she had severe reflux three years ago. (Luckily, we have connections to any kind of doctor we'd ever need, it seems!) She examined Jonah, asked questions, and ordered a million tests. We went over to the hospital to get an X-ray of Jonah's abdomen and blood tests. He also has to do three days worth of poop tests. Fun for Mama, that's for sure. 

Today the GI doctor called and the X-ray results were in. They found that Jonah is full of air. The Newsoms have been known to be full of hot air, but not just room temperature air.  (ha ha) Poor Jonah has a tummy full of air and a small intestine full of air. Air is an irritant that can cause discomfort. The doctor said she thinks Jonah is swallowing all that air! So we're supposed to observe him while we wait for all the other results to come in, and watch for him gulping his food (which he does every single time he eats or drinks), or the doctor said kids who have anxiety like Jonah sometimes sigh and then swallow air. We'll see what the other tests show, but Jonah may need to see a special speech therapist who works with kids on how not to swallow air. Who knew there was such a thing!

Jonah was petrified at the hospital throughout the testing. He'd never had an X-ray before and was just terrified, no matter what I told him. Then the blood test made him cry even more. Poor kid. It was an exhausting day for both of us.

The funny thing is that even when you're going through such exhausting, confusing, worrying times, there are still such funny, interesting things that life brings your way. On the way to the ENT appointment, Ella and Jonah were sitting in the back seat of the van chatting with me. Out of the blue, Jonah asks if there's really a Santa. Now he has asked me this multiple times over the past couple months, and when that happens I know he's really mulling something over and really is searching for the truth. Before that day, I would turn the question back to Jonah as all good social workers learn to do: What do you think, Jonah? Do you believe there is a Santa? 

I never told him there was for sure a Santa, but I didn't tell him there wasn't either because I wasn't sure he really wanted to know that truth. It felt like the end of a childhood era to tell my oldest son that the magic of Santa isn't quite as real as we believed it was in younger years. I never wanted to tell my kids there was a Santa, because when I found out the tooth fairy wasn't real as a kid, I was FURIOUS with my parents for LYING to me and told them they should NEVER lie to my little brother the way they had lied to me. I was devastated. We didn't really do the Santa thing because our childhood was so different in Africa. But apparently the tooth fairy could find her way across the ocean to our little village even though Santa couldn't.

After Jonah asked if Santa was real in the car, I was quiet for a few long moments, trying to decide what to do. Which path to take my son on. Should I let him grow up a little in that moment and know the truth or try to make him fit in the box of being my little boy who I don't want to grow up too fast. So picture this: Jonah says "Mom, is there really a Santa?" Silence. Silence. Then Ella says "NO." (!!) What?!? I chuckled. She had no idea what she was talking about, but she broke the ice for us. I told Jonah that no, there is not a real Santa. He shouted "I KNEW IT!" I told him that Santa is a story of magic and hope and kindness that parents tell their kids to make Christmas even more mystical and exciting than it already is, since we also are celebrating the birth of baby Jesus at that time, and that is a very important and special part of what we believe. I explained that the Santa story is sort of a dream or an idea of great generosity that we want our family to be part of all year, and especially at Christmas. That's why we choose tags off the Christmas tree at church that tell us which foster children we can buy presents for.  It's why we donate food and money to the local food bank during the winter. It's why we have made cookies for our neighbors and delivered them in Santa hats. 

I was worried about what Jonah's reaction would be. He is such a wise soul, I should have known he would have taken all this in stride. We talked about how his younger brother and sister still believe in Santa, and I asked him if he would mind not telling them about this talk so that they can keep believing in Santa until they are ready to know the truth. Jonah agreed he wouldn't tell his siblings what I had told him. After a while he was quiet, and then he said in true Jonah fashion, "Mom. Thanks for telling me the truth." That kid. Such a wise, old soul. I just want to hug him forever. He wasn't devastated or upset that Daddy and I had told some tall tales about a guy in a red suit. He understood. 

So it's the end of an era at our house this holiday season. Our oldest boy knows the truth about Santa. I knew this day would come, but didn't expect it on the drive to find out if Jonah needs his tonsils and adenoids out. Even in the midst of medical conundrums, Jonah reminded me not to forget that my kids are still just kids. I shouldn't let my anxiety about all the medical issues we're facing right now overtake the fact that my kids are beautiful, thoughtful, rich souls who are just enjoying being kids. They're just trying to figure out the world, and their place in it. My Jonah makes me smile with his beautiful, joyful, open spirit.

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