There is an edict that we, as parents, declare when we take our second child home from the hospital (and then renew for each subsequent child): Thou Shalt Not Be More Than One Child In Crisis At Any Given Time. Or Else. Mostly, the children play along. I haven’t quite figured out if this is because they genuinely care about not snapping the fragile, fragile twig that is our mental health, or if they just find it hilarious to bounce us from problem to problem until we lie on the floor and cry for our own mamas. Whichever the case, I have a child right now who has been making me worry with so many different issues. I can’t cry “Foul!” because, technically, it’s only one child crisis-tating. But Bee has been taking up an awful lot of my mama-powers these past few weeks.
There’s the failing spelling and language thing. There was the back-and-forth over whether to re-pierce her ears. There is the daily struggle with homework. The eczema-or-ringworm-or-wth?! thing near her eye. A mole on her back that suddenly changed. And then there were the two spots on her face that looked suspiciously like vitiligo.
I didn’t know what vitiligo was until my Ex (who wasn’t my Ex at the time) had problems with a patch of it on his neck that kept growing. Vitiligo is, basically, de-pigmented skin; it can appear anywhere on a scale of slightly-paler-than-normal to stark white as your skin loses its pigment, can grow in size, and can easily burn badly in the sun (leading to all other kinds of problems). This summer, as the girls were playing more and more outside and their little selves got tanner and tanner (yes, I douse them in vats of sunblock), I noticed a white-ish patch about the size of a half-dollar on Bee’s cheek. I kept an eye on it and soon realized she had two patches – one on each cheek, almost identical. I asked her dad if he had noticed, and he said he had, and that he thought it was probably vitiligo. Go ahead and guess what’s genetic? Yep. Poor Bee. That’s all my seven-year-old needs, especially when she’s already struggling with self-confidence and with the reading and comprehension thing in school. Losing pigment in her face? Not going to help.
To be clear: even if it was vitiligo, it wasn’t very noticeable yet. Bee hadn’t even noticed it yet. And it didn’t necessarily mean it was going to be an issue right away – it might not grow or get worse for years. Or at all. And even if it did, I’m not saying it’s the very worst thing in the world. She could be blind. Or paralyzed. Or not have access to health care and a support system. I KNOW IT COULD BE WORSE. But I’m her mama and it’s my job to worry about the health and happiness of my kid. I do that job very well, you guys.
Which is how to came to be that I brought up the vitiligo during Bee’s well-check at the doctor’s office. (Along with the mole and the rash that is so much more noticeable but somehow less worrying.) The doctor took a scraping of the possible-eczema and said she’d let me know which medicine would clear it up, adding that it should be fairly easy. She looked at Bee’s mole and said the change was normal, but she would add it to Bee’s chart to look at again next year.
And she said that Bee doesn’t have vitiligo.
Apparently, those spots are something called pityriasis alba, which is a lot like mild eczema. She suggested moisturizer and said it goes away on its own, and since both areas were smooth and it wasn’t bothering Bee, we didn’t even have to treat it at all if we didn’t want to. (Although really, I think I can spare some lotion and Bee will love being all girly about it.)
It’s one thing, just one thing off my plate, but it was enough to earn an extra big sigh of gratitude from this mama.