“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

GrandParenting: The Case of the Pink Diarrhea


When I became the de facto parent to my then 18-month-old granddaughter and had intimations that it would be permanent, I dreaded, was scared of, one all-too-familiar, inevitable event: having to stay up all night long with a feverish, vomiting, diarrhea-o-rama sick child. I knew – and know now – I am simply too old to stay up all night changing sheets, toweling up the floor, and cloroxing the toilet every thirty minutes.

I would have to clorox the toilet for sure. Our lab Maggie drinks out of the toilets. Some things you can’t change; you pick your battles.

As most parents know, for infants and toddlers it’s all bugs all the time. Some kids, after many episodes, get enough used to the fever, vomiting, and diarrhea that it doesn’t much bother them. Parents never get used to it.

I became paranoid. Every time Joanna Leigh sneezed, I thought, “It’s tonight for sure. What am I going to do???”


A Long Day’s Journey into Diarrhea Night

It never happened. The worst things she ever got were these piddling runny noses, a few coughs here and there, but no fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. On the other hand, those piddling runny nose events turned into a near-pneumonia event or sinus meltdown events on me. I spent nearly two years sick with mega-colds until my aged immunities got a grip.

It just never happened.

So then I became paranoid over her off-the-charts good health. “Could something be wrong with nothing being wrong with her?” I would think.

So at her five-year check-up for shots, weight, height, and all the doo-dah details, I finally got up the nerve to talk with the doctor about her health, her off-the-charts great health.

Haltingly I said, “Doctor, I need to talk with you about something.” Naturally she, the pediatrician, shot her eyes toward me like I was about to tell her something really awful and scary.

“Joanna Leigh is never sick. She has never had a night of fever, vomiting, diarrhea. She’s only run fever, what, twice for about 15 minutes when she picked up strep throat. Do you think that’s normal, or do you think something might be wrong deep underneath all that good health?”

Her reaction to my telling her NOT about something awful and scary, but about some insane and stupid non-issue was to stand in front of me, speechless.

“Are you serious?” she finally said as she closed the door behind her.

A year later, after she turned six, a friend took her to the Birmingham Zoo. As they drove up the driveway when they got back, Joanna Leigh said, “I’m going to throw up.” The only reason she knew what “throw up” meant is because she once ate one of those boutique cupcakes piled high with pink icing, then came home and threw up the pink icing onto the carpet. She never asked for one of those cupcakes with the BIG icing again, to date.

They quickly got out of the car, and sure enough, she threw up in the driveway. I felt her. She was hot. It wasn’t long before she began having diarrhea. She really didn’t even know what she was having until I explained diarrhea to her.

She said, “I don’t like throwing up or having diarrhea.”

I said, “I don’t like it either,” remaining somewhat ambiguous: When I had it or when she had it? I’m not sure I can answer that even today.


The Mystery of the Pink Diarya


A few months later she went back to the Birmingham Zoo on a day-camp field trip. When I went to pick her up, she ran toward me shouting, “Look what I got! A diarrhea! A diarrhea!”

I thought, “Oh no! Not again! What’s in that zoo, anyway?”

She was waving it in the air. Pink. Like the cupcake vomit. It was a “diarya.” A pink diary. A pink diarya with keys and a pen. Diarya is the way she heard “diary.”

So she writes in it, even though she hasn’t really learned how to write. She shows me her diarya writings. I had a flash forward. “That’s what 13-year-olds’ musing are – diarya.”

I’ll bet she doesn’t show me when she’s 13, not that I would want to read it. And peeking into your child’s diary is a huge No-No.

So I won’t read her diarya when she’s 13. Maybe.





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