I’m not a doctor, and I don’t claim to know the things they know. But I am a mother, and when it comes to my children, I believe I have a “sixth” sense. I’m pretty good at recognizing when they are really sick or really hurt – and not just suffering from a pathetically simple, “no you don’t need Penicillin or Demerol or Xanax (as if)” head cold, and not just throwing up because they are hung over even though they deny it, and not just needing to stay home from school because they “have a test today and didn’t study for it”, and not just distressingly hobbling about because they twisted an ankle playing soccer and now it’s broken, but when I ask them if they want Chinese food, they magically run across the room. OK, so my husband could help me with that last one. He is an orthopaedic surgeon.
All mothers have this otherworldly “kinesthesia”, this “ability to know things, don’t ask how” – at least, most of us do. It’s part of our biology, our scientific, rudimentary, plasmic, constitutional, nuclear, basil (is that a spice?) make-up. Like knowing to check the doors at night to see if anyone has locked them – they haven’t. Like knowing when NOT to ask my daughter about her schoolwork/to help clean the house/to be nice to her brothers so she doesn’t bite my head off (she’s pre-period, duh!) – as smart as he is, that’s a skill that my husband does NOT possess. Like knowing to bring snacks on a two-hour car ride (even when the kids are adults), because low blood sugar means low blood sugar no matter how old you are, and it can turn a perfectly normal boy/man into a monster, so it’s best to be prepared.