I Hate That When My Kid Said She Had An Ant In Her Ear, I Thought She Was Lying

antWhen you have a child, or children, one of the most difficult things to do is to separate fact from fiction.

When my daughter told me that she felt like there was an ant in her ear, it sounded a lot like, “My dog ate my homework.” I hate myself, as a person and more importantly as a mother, for immediately thinking that when my 9-year told me that it “feels like there’s an ant in my ear,” I thought she just wanted to get out of school the next day. Basically, I thought my daughter was a liar.

Luckily, I am Mother Enough to have thought, “OK, let’s just go get this checked out.” (Grumble-Grumble-I-have-better-things-to-do-than-find-a-doctor-on-a-Sunday-at-dinner-time.)

We found a walk-in doctor, who was just about to close his doors, who checked out my daughter. She told him, “It feels like something is moving in my ear. Like an ant!” Again, I didn’t believe her. I may have even – gah! – rolled my eyes. I said to the doctor, “Well, she may have an ear infection. She just got over a cold.”

The doctor checked out her left ear.

“Well, would you look at that!” he exclaimed.

I thought, for sure, the doctor would say, “She does have an ear infection.”

Nope. The doctor said, “There is an ant in her ear! I haven’t seen this in over a decade!”

I did what any mother would do after her daughter says there is an ant in her ear and there IS actually an ant in her ear. I apologized profusely to my daughter for thinking she was lying to me.

No I didn’t.

Actually, I just took pictures. I took a picture of the ant that the doctor rescued (in the sense that he got the ant out by flushing her ear with water, but, unfortunately the ant had a sad ending) and, also, a photo of my daughter holding a pee sample cup with the dead ant from her ear. She held it up like a trophy.

She should have held it up like a trophy. In a sense, she did win. My daughter was correct. I was wrong. I was wrong for not believing her, but come on. What parent upon hearing her daughter, who doesn’t love school, who says it feels like there’s an ant in her ear, actually would believe their kid? Much like a teacher who hears, “The dog ate my homework,” or a mother who hears from their child, “Those are not MY cigarettes. So and so left them here!” it was just so…unbelievable.

So how do we, as parents, separate fact from fiction? Especially when it IS true that there was an ant in my daughter’s ear, or when the dog REALLY does eat your homework? (Seriously, a friend of mine did get a puppy which REALLY DID eat her child’s homework. The teacher didn’t believe it, but it was true.)

We can tell if our children have fevers, or if they have a cold. But can we really know if our child is lying when they say they have a headache or a stomachache? I do think children learn that headaches and stomachaches are the best excuses, because they do learn that we, as parents, can’t actually SEE those symptoms. And they can continue with those excuses – headaches, stomachaches – to the teachers and the school nurse, until they, pretty much, call us to take our kid back, even though we only dropped them off at school 42 minutes ago.

But then, what if your child is telling the truth (the stomachaches turns into them throwing up) or an ant in their ear really does turn out to be exactly that? You’re left feeling like a chump of a parent and also an awful human for not believing your own flesh and blood.

I don’t really have an answer, except to say, I’m going to lean towards believing my daughter when she says she has an ant in her ear from now on.

Sometimes the dog really does eat your homework. And sometimes, it turns out, there really is an ant in your child’s ear.

(photo: Evgeniy Ayupov / Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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    • Sarah

      Nice article. Apparently, it’s generated a lot of buzz, because my screen is telling me it’s gotten 1,255,178,618 reactions. :)

      • Koa Beck

        We’re having some tech issues today :-(

    • Tea

      This is why I was terrified of Earwigs as a child.

      • laineypc

        Whoever named them earwigs must have taken an evil pleasure in terrifying children.

    • laineypc

      Trust and verify. I have your dilemma with my daughter’s tummy aches. I believe she has them but I also believe she sometimes uses them as an excuse not to eat something objectionable. Hard to verify. But I do believe it is important for us to show our children that we think them trustworthy as much as possible, because if they get the opposite message, will that be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

      • AP

        Come up with an “alternate” food that’s unpleasantly boring for when she has tummyaches, and use it to replace whatever item she is complaining about along with any rich or spicy foods on her plate that might also irritate her tummy. If she doesn’t feel well, she’ll take the alternate. If she does, she’ll suck it up and eat the broccoli.

    • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

      I’m still figuring out this whole “crying wolf” thing after 11 years. You cry “ant” enough and eventually, the ant shows up. That’s how it works, right?

      Don’t be too hard on yourself – kids can sense when they have us over a barrel and they are quite good at exploiting that. As much as I despise quoting Ronald Reagan, “Trust but Verify” seems appropriate.

      Any theories as to how the insect got in the ear in the first place? Wouldn’t want this to be a recurring phenomenon.

      Good to know you and your daughter recovered nicely.

      • NeuroNerd

        I think it’s a little strange that the kid said “it feels like there’s an ant in my ear” and it was, in fact, an ant. I wouldn’t be surprised if she put it in there and couldn’t get it out. Maybe she didn’t ‘fess up because she was embarrassed. Kids do some odd things.

    • PacGirl

      This actually happened to me when I was a kid!!! I think I was about the same age as the daughter, maybe a little younger, and a small bug flew into my ear and got stuck. I could feel it crawling in my ear, but when I told my mom it had crawled too far in for her to see it and she didn’t believe me. Fortunately after about 15 minutes started crawling out and I made sure to have her look as it was coming out, at which point she of course had to finally believe me. It was a really weird feeling having a bug in your ear, btw.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Once my teacher’s dog ate my homework. After months of trying to get out of doing homework for the teacher, it was sweet, sweet irony. Life is stranger than fiction. At least it wasn’t a spider!

    • Kaseysanan

      When I was 4 I told constantly told my mom that I had pain in my legs that kept me from walking normally. She didn’t believe me ( i was a very dramatic child) until I was taken to a neurologist and they found a tumor on my spinal cord that was causing the pain. Sorry if I scare any parents! I’m 22 now and perfectly healthy but it is surprising when kids are actually telling the truth..

    • Kapibarasan

      I actually had an ant in my ear when I was a teen D: Oh god it was so horrible, I didn’t even realize what that weird feeling in my ear was before it came out still alive. It was like something was in there digging, well indeed there was. I still can’t sleep without putting my hair to cover my ears >__<

    • JGM1764

      I had a number of instances as a kid when my mom didn’t believe me when I said something was wrong. It always seemed to me that adults believe kids are impervious to pain. The grown-ups would talk about how they hated events at the school when they had to sit on the gym floor because it was painful. Around 2nd and 3rd grade, I found sitting on the gym floor to be excruciatingly painful to the point where I was nearly in tears after school assemblies, but if I tried to tell an adult, they scoffed, “stop being silly, you’re young, it doesn’t hurt!”

      I mentioned it again to my mom sometime when I was in high school, how much sitting on the floor (when I was 7 or 8) hurt and where. She nonchalantly said, “oh, sounds like you had a broken tailbone.” I stop and stared at her in disbelief. I felt, betrayed I guess would be the right word. But at the time, oh I was just being silly. I also had frequent headaches as a kid. When I dared complain about that, what did I hear? “You’re young, there’s no reason for your head to hurt all the time. Stop being silly.” Frequent headaches can be caused by poor eyesight. I needed glasses for years before I got them. But, I was just being silly. I was just trying to get attention.
      I’m not even going to get into my chronic sleep disorder.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Dude. I went through similar with my mum over back pain.

        I have Cerebral Palsy. I’m in a wheelchair. So I’m sitting. A lot.

        In my early teens, I began having back pain. I did eventually get seen by a doctor, there were x-rays, tangible evidence of Yet Another Diagnosis. (Spondylolisthesis, if anyone is wondering.)

        I was totally justified in turning to her and saying — in front of the doctor — “I told you so.”

        And, as CP seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, in recent years my SI joints, hips, knees, and ankles have joined in the painful protest over (lack of) positioning options. I am in my 30′s. I feel like I’m in my 90′s. And I hurt.

    • Stanley Rodgers

      You could have apologized for not believing her. From my perspective it was a missed opportunity to teach her about lying and also show her that a person should admit their mistakes.

    • Muggle

      I had this EXACT feeling just a few hours ago. I also suffered from loads of ear infections when I was little, so if a kid told me she felt like there was something in her ear that shouldn’t be, I’d be having her checked out pronto. Even fluid draining from the ear can feel like something’s crawling around in there.