When the kindergarten ESL bus pulled up today, the driver leaned over and called out, "She says she has a headache and her tummy hurts." Linden dragged herself off the bus and walked up and leaned her head into me. The Winemaker asked her when her tummy started to hurt, and a soft but fervent stammering began, mixing English and her native language. I couldn't hear her so close to the busy road, but I did hear her say she wants us to start picking her up after school. As we walked home, the listlesness eased a bit, and she picked up a stick and showed me it was shaped like an L. Once home, she sat down to take her shoes off, then scooted over on her bottom and wrapped herself around my slippered foot. She told us again that her tummy started hurting on the bus, and that she wants us to start picking her up again. We exchanged glances over her head.
Linden gets carsick. A few minutes into any trip, she announces the headache. On our first longer trip, she puked almost exactly an hour into the trip. Since then, we've give her half a children's dramamine before any longer trip, and she always has a plastic bag near her, just in case. I've read up on it a bit, and found that this is fairly common in kids under 10--a combination of factors including being too short to really focus out the window as well as more complex physiological factors. So I tried to not get too worked up about it.
The first two weeks of school, she wasn't on the afternoon bus route yet, since she was new to the ESL program, which has its own bus 90 minutes after the regular morning kindergarteners go home. She was itching to ride the afternoon bus, and came home pissed off a few times because she kept getting it into her head that she should be ON THAT BUS, not getting picked up by mom and dad. When they finally added her to the route, she was added as the last stop--45 minutes to get 1.1 miles. I told her it would be a really long ride, and she insisted it was fine. We asked again about it once she started riding, and she insisted that she loved the bus, it was fine, she felt great. I'll be honest here--I figured this was 45 more minutes for me to get stuff done at home, and let it go.
Yesterday she and I were at the zoo. We left when everyone else did, at closing. The traffic in the parking lot was, um, like a parking lot Or possibly like a zoo. The temperature was pleasant--not hot, not cold. She wasn't hungry or overfull. We had only driven the car long enough to get out of our parking spot, then we were stuck in such a jam that I just killed the engine.
"Mama, I have a headache," she announced.
This struck me as decidedly odd. We weren't moving. We hadn't been moving. We were pretty much just sitting in a parked car with a pleasant breeze coming in partially opened windows. When I say the traffic was bad, it was bad in a very well-mannered "I just took my family to the zoo!" way, with no honking or aggression on display, and not enough idling time to create noticable fumes. How could this create motion sickness?
What happened to her in a car? I wonder. What could her body be remembering that makes her hurt all over? It could be nothing. She might just be super sensitive to motion. Or she could have been molested in a car. Or she subconsciously might associate cars with being removed from her home. The thing is, I don't know. This is one area where the "Welcome to Parenthood!" people, the ones who think that my kids are just like their kids, are way off base. If you've raised a child from birth, you know what's happened to them. You know their trauma, if any, and you sure as hell know their triggers, am I right? But I DO NOT KNOW.
This is why I will probably be giving up those 45 minutes and picking her up again. We have to spend a lot of time in the car. We are, after all, suburban Americans. But given the ridiculousness of that 45 minutes trip to cover a walkable distance anyway, I don't feel that I can justify forcing her to take the bus.
Not knowing. It complicates things. I can't let it rule our lives, but I can't pretend that every time we don't know, the least harmful possibility is the reality.