My son, the drama queen
Why does he always act like he’s in mortal agony? Karin Schimke sighs...
My son is a drama queen. He must have the lowest pain threshold in the world, or the loudest reaction to pain. Or maybe a combination of the two.

Even knowing this, I still have a miniscule moment of panic when I hear, from across the house, the grunt-wail-shock exclamation that accompanies every accident, no matter how minor or major.

When I find him – usually bent dying-swan-like over an ankle bone he banged against the bed, or doubled over himself because his sister accidentally bopped him in the tummy as she ran past, or clutching his calf and squirming over a growing pain – I’m still expecting to see blood or brains.

But the injury is always less spectacular than its announcement. Which means that I have a developed a dangerously laissez-faire attitude towards his bumps and scrapes. My standard response once my heart has stopped fluttering is something anodyne and non-committal like ‘hhmm’, or ‘eina’, or ‘ag shame’, followed by a little hug and a kiss to the injured part.

Except of course when he’s given me such a rise that I am biology-bound by adrenalin to kak on him for making such a panic-inducing scene about knocking his funny bone on the kitchen table.  

We’ve had calm conversations about the need to not cry wolf every time he injures himself. Yet, in the heat of the moment, his reaction is always some combination of double-over, grunt expansively, howl, pinch eyes shut, suck air in dramatically through teeth , or bare them in a grimace of what appears to be gut-wrenching agony.

He is – it seems – just a ninny when it comes to pain and there’s nothing I can do about it, except allow the moment of pain to pass without too much fuss from me.

But here’s the rub: one day I’m going to be typing at the computer, hear a thud and bone-tingling yowl, and I’m calmly going to finish my sentence, check my spelling and grammar and do a quick send and receive on email before I wander over to offer my cynical sympathies. And I’m going to find him with his leg bent the wrong way, or a clavicle sticking through his skin, and he’s going to be passed out on the grass in real pain, or from loss of blood.

His cousin was also known for his amateur dramatics as a boy. He once had to limp around for 24 hours before he could get any useful reaction out of his parents who eventually - sighing no doubt - took him to doctor, only to discover he’d shattered his patella.

Apparently he has learnt to adjust his vocal reaction by measuring his pain against that of an ignored shattered patella and no longer has everyone speeding to his side when he rolls on to the remote control while he’s watching telly.

Do you kids over-react to hurting themselves?

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