Have you ever prayed for your child to be sick? I don’t mean tried to make him sick; I’m not talking about Munchausen by proxy. I mean gotten down on your knees and eeked out your last ounce of hope into a prayer to any higher being within earshot: Please, PLEASE, let him have an ear infection!

When Dr. G sat back with his otoscope and said, “They’re pristine,” I wanted to scream at him to look again. I didn’t, but Dr. G is awesome, so he probably wouldn’t have taken offense if I had. Of course, that also could be because I would have phrased it as a joke. That’s just how I roll.

Anyway, as I struggled to swallow my scream, Dr. G and I discussed how frustrating ear infection detection (rhyme unintentional, thus a bonus) can be. BamBam doesn’t have a consistent word for ears and he doesn’t have any word at all for pain or hurt. I often ask if he’s okay and he says yes, but he always says yes. He thinks that’s just what you say when someone asks if you’re okay. Sometimes he tugs on his ears or tilts his head to his shoulder, but that’s unreliable because he does it sometimes when he doesn’t even have fluid in his ears. Dr. G suggests that sleep disruption may be BamBam’s big tell because he’s sleeping okay now, but the last time he had an ear infection (that we knew about) he repeatedly woke up screaming in the middle of the night. I had forgotten that. It doesn’t really matter to me, though, because difficulty with infection detection (okay, that one was kind of intentional) is not what’s frustrating me this time.

I’m frustrated because I really wanted him to have an infection. Something tangible that’s causing his behavior. Yeah, I know he’s autistic, but I want a reason outside of autism for his behavior over the last week. I want an ear infection. I want something I can treat with antibiotics and ibuprofen so that in 10 days I can have my sweet little boy back.

At first he hated the school bus, then he loved it. Then his regular bus driver was replaced by a series of rotating bus drivers and he hated that. At least I think that’s what he hated because otherwise it’s something random that I don’t understand and he can’t tell me. Then he got a regular bus driver again and I added sitting-on-the-porch-swing to wait for the bus to our routine and all was right with the world again. Until last week.

Admittedly, he had a rough re-entry from spring break. Last Monday and Tuesday he did not want to get on the bus. I can understand that, though. Change in routine is difficult for the best of us and autism amplifies that difficulty exponentially.  But he went to the bus happily on Thursday morning. I was surprised when I opened his lunchbox that afternoon and found a note from his SNAPS teacher saying he’d had a rough morning (according to his morning teacher), with lots of crying and seeming tired, and she wouldn’t be surprised if they sent him home the next day.  I was more than a little confused because he had been happy and giggling with the bus driver when he came home, so it didn’t seem like they could be talking about the same boy. I sent an email to his teachers that night, but didn’t get an answer. I suspect that his girlfriend, the special ed teacher, had not been in class that day. He’s kind of attached to her. A lot.  And why wouldn’t he be? She totally rocks.

Anyway, I considered an ear infection at that point, but decided to just send him to school the next day and hope for the best. He woke up in a foul mood, so I was a little worried I’d get a phone call from school, but I didn’t. He was grumpy on and off all weekend and actually took a nap on the couch (and on Dad) on Sunday afternoon. I went to the gym at 6 Monday morning and came home to a screaming BamBam and a frustrated husband. Sparky can elaborate if he wants to, but I’m just saying BamBam started the morning screaming and I don’t think he stopped once until the bus pulled away. I made the appointment with Dr. G as soon as the bus was out of site.

So, no ear infection. I guess we’ll just have to soldier on until…I don’t know. Until the tide turns again, I guess. He’s been pretty mercurial lately, even by his standards, so maybe the wait won’t be that long.

On the other hand, His protest to just even putting on his shoes this morning was epic. Dealing with him when he’s like this, the “simple” task of getting him on the bus and strapped into his seat, sucks all of the energy out of me. And the bus leaves our house by 8:10 am. I’m sometimes surprised I can make it back in the house.

Maybe I should take him for a second opinion on that ear infection.