My mom Frieda is guest posting for me today. I have heard her tell parts of this story many times, but some of this I didn’t remember her telling me at all. It’s so neat to have these memories written down. Enjoy!
When Esther was about six months old, she was sitting on the floor one morning, playing with one of her sisters. She fell over backwards, hitting her head on the hard concrete tile floor of our house in Mexico. It sounded like she started to cry, but then she held her breath, and her eyes rolled back in her head. There are no words to describe how this terrified me, but she came to on her own and seemed fine, though she was sleepy.
We took her to our trusted pediatrician, who said she had something called “síndroma del sollozo” or sob syndrome, and that it was nothing to worry about. He said if it happened again, I should just hold her up and blow in her face. Ah, I felt so much better . . . , but then he added, “Just don’t let her stay out too long, or she will have brain damage.”
“Thank you so much, doctor. How long is too long? And what do I do if it happens again and blowing in her face doesn’t work?” (I didn’t say this out loud.)
Well, it did happen again, not exactly often, but every once in awhile. Helpful people would tell us, oh, their child did that, and it was nothing but a temper tantrum. Just ignore her, they would say, and she will catch her breath. I usually didn’t bother to argue with these people, but Esther never held her breath or passed out when she was angry. Every time it happened, she was either hurt or scared. And as she got older, it was harder and harder to wake her up. I would blow until I must have been blue in the face.
We went back to the doctor. I explained that blowing in her face wasn’t working as well anymore. He said next time to throw water in her face, and not to worry because the problem usually didn’t last past the age of two-and-a-half years.
We believe in judicious spanking when it is appropriate. Fortunately, Esther was a compliant child and seldom outright disobedient. But when one of her siblings got a spanking and she said smugly, “I’m too little, right?” we knew we could have problems. I spanked her a few times, claiming very literally the verse that says, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” (Proverbs 23:13). You may be sure my spankings could in no way be called “beating,” but the verse gave some comfort.