Lately, he's had a hard time going to bed. I tuck him in, but it never takes. Before I know it he's making an appearance at the bottom of the stairs.
"Mama, I had a bad dream."
"Dan, you've only been in bed for 10 minutes. I'm pretty sure you haven't fallen asleep yet. Now go on back to bed."
15 minutes later...
"Mama, I'm not sleepy and the only thing that makes me really really really really googolplex tired is you reading me a bedtime story."
Last night he came downstairs and told me his ear hurt. He said it itched and when he put his finger inside to scratch it, it began hurting, and that it felt like something hard was in there, like a button. I asked him if he had put anything in his ear and he said no. I got a flashlight and looked in both ears but they looked fine. He seemed genuinely uncomfortable. He said his tummy hurt too. So I called a late-night RN line and explained the situation.
She asked if he would have put anything in his ear. I told her he had already said no. Are you sure he's telling you the truth, she asked? Yes, I answered with confidence. She suggested it might be an ear infection and that I should give him some ibuprofen and take him to the doctor if it wasn't better in the morning.
As I gave him the medication, I got down on his level and told him that if he had put anything in his ear, it was really important to tell Mommy. That I wasn't mad and he wouldn't be in trouble, but that the nurse and I needed to know so we could best take care of him. Again, he just shook his head and said he never put anything near his ear. He seemed so miserable that I let him sleep next to me in bed, so I could keep an eye on him.
When he awoke the next morning he was a bit congested and still in pain, so I thought it must be an ear infection. I kept him home and took him to the doctor. She put him up on the exam table and took a look in each ear. "Well, what do we have here?" she asked. She grabbed a pair of tweezers and expertly pulled an object out of his left ear. She showed it to me. It was a little purple button.
I looked at Dan, who had a sheepish look on his face. I couldn't help myself, I burst into a fit of giggles. I know I should have been mad at him. For lying, for leading us on a wild goose chase, for causing me to miss a day of work. But I couldn't stop laughing. Teaching moment: lost.
"Dan," I asked, "how do you think that button got in your ear?"
He thought about it a bit. "It must have rolled in there when I was asleep."
Yes. I'm sure that's exactly what happened.