I’m not entirely sure why or how, but my children learned at a very early age that it’s fun to harass me.  That is to say that they’re always saying and doing things to give me a hard time, usually just for laughs or to see my reaction.  I’m not sure exactly where they learned it, except to say that everyone loves to give me a hard time.  Not a single day goes by when someone doesn’t give me a hard time.  I really don’t mind it.  To be honest, I actually enjoy it because I enjoy honing my skills on dishing it right back.

An example of this happened a couple of years ago when I somehow managed to injure my hip.  As a result, walking and even rolling over in bed was excruciatingly painful.  Because “only the elderly” have hip and joint problems, my kids jumped on the bandwagon right away and decided that this was the funniest thing they’d ever heard!  From that day forward, every time I had even the mildest ache or pain, one of them would ask, “Is that your hip?  Are you okay?  Did you break your hip again?”  Ugghh!  And don’t even get me started on how much they enjoyed the fact that the doctor diagnosed me as having arthritis in my knee!

Needless to say, I never know what’s going to come out of their mouths and, regardless of how much I prepare, I’m always left standing with my mouth agape at the creativity of their playful ribbing.

Several months ago, my 7-year old was experiencing a series of very painful and debilitating stomach aches.  There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to when or why they occurred, and we just couldn’t figure out the catalyst.  The first time, I took him in to the emergency room after two hours of pain only to arrive and – within an hour of arriving – his pain was gone and he felt perfectly fine.  The doctors did the normal physical exam and palpated his stomach to check for a possible appendicitis, but we eventually walked away with no answers.  It was just “one of those things.”

A few weeks later, his stomach pains were back and were happening every day.  We’d seen his regular doctor and she could only come to the conclusion that he had a virus that was manifesting itself through the stomach pains.  She explained that it wasn’t completely uncommon for some people to have a flu-like virus that, for whatever reason, isn’t purged from our bodies in the normal manner of a stomach virus and, instead, just causes extreme stomach pain.  I wasn’t happy with the answer, but I had to go with it for the time being.

About two days after that appointment, Braden came home from school with intense and debilitating stomach pains.  He’d been complaining for well over an  hour and finally became doubled-over in pain and was crying because the pain was so intense.  Off to the emergency room we went, where we sat for seven hours.  For five of those seven hours, Braden continued to be in intense pain.  To their credit, the doctors did a battery of tests, including an x-ray to check for some type of blockage and a blood test to check for appendicitis or other nefarious maladies.  They found nothing.  And, by the time we were finally released, Braden was back to his normal self and pain free.

Braden’s x-ray revealed nothing of concern

Like most 7 year old boys (and girls, probably), Braden found the x-ray machine to be fascinating.  He loved the idea of what the inside of his body might look like and, once he was feeling better, began to hound the doctor to see the picture from the x-ray.  The doctor assured him that he could see the picture before we went home.

As we were being released, Braden reminded the doctor.  “You promised I could see my picture!” he whined.

“Oh gosh!  I’m so sorry, Buddy!  I completely forgot!” the doctor responded.  He then invited us into a communal office with a bank of computers and about a half dozen other doctors all sitting around acting busy.

“Hey guys!  This is Braden,” he said.  “I promised Braden that I’d show him his x-ray, so he’s going to join us for a few minutes if that’s okay.”

The doctors were friendly and greeted Braden as though he was a visiting doctor and then all eyes in the room turned to the computer screen as his attending physician pulled up the computerized imagine of Braden’s x-ray.  As the doctor studied it closely for a moment and brought Braden over to explain what he was seeing, another doctor walked over to look closely at the image.  This other doctor obviously enjoyed kids because he said, “Whoa!  Would you look at that!?!”

“What?  What?” asked Braden.

The doctor started to laugh quietly and then pointed to the image on the screen with a pointer.  “Braden, do you see all of those dark circular-type things in this picture?  The circles that are darker than the rest of the images on the screen?” he asked.

“Yeah….” said Braden.

“Do you know what those are?” he asked.

Braden pondered this for a moment and then replied, “I dunno.”

“Those, dear boy, are ‘future farts.’  And you, my friend,  have a whole bunch of future farts in that tummy of yours!  If I were you, I think I’d warn your family to stay clear of you for the next couple of days!”

It’s not surprising the Braden found this absolutely hilarious.  The doctor had said “farts,” and – because it came from a doctor – it must be an official medical term, which now gave him permission to use the word that Mom and Dad had made off-limits.  With pure glee, Braden started to giggle and repeated “Future farts!  That’s funny!  Did you hear that, Mom?  I have a bunch of future farts in my tummy!”

Groan.  I could see where this was going.

“That’s pretty cool, Buddy!” I responded as the doctor printed off a copy of his x-ray to take home.  “We’re going to have to show this to Daddy and see what he thinks of all of those future farts in your tummy.”

At this point, another doctor in the room piped in and said, “I wonder what your dad’s x-ray would look like if we took his.  Who do you think would have more future farts?  You or your dad?” he asked.

Without missing a single beat, Braden responded, “My mom!  She has more future farts than anybody!

There was a moment of shocked silence as the doctors in the room silently deliberated over whether it was appropriate for them to laugh but, within moments, the entire room erupted into laughter.

“He just threw you under the bus, Mom!” said one of the doctors.

“Yeah!” piped up another doctor.  “And then he threw it in reverse and backed over you a few times!”

“Yeah, yeah…so what else is new?” I wondered aloud.