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No. 6

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by Dr. Rodger Sayre
- disclaimer -
Growing Pains aren’t Just for Kids

“Dr. Sayre, Al has been waking up at night complaining of pains in his legs. I am just so worried about him. My great-grandmother had rickets … could this be rickets? Should we do an x-ray or something?” Al, at age 4, was the perfect age for the diagnosis of growing pains. The pain was in both legs, occurred only at night, and did not cause a limp. To cinch the diagnosis, his exam was completely normal.


“Mrs. Gias,” I responded, “I think we’re dealing with something called growing pains. It’s pretty common in children between the ages of 3 and 10 and always goes away with time. Let’s just wait on x-rays or blood work for now.”

After receiving instructions on what should prompt a phone call back to the office, Mrs. Gias stood and stretched out her hand, visibly relieved by the good news. Her smile faded as she studied my face. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, thanks. Just a little tired,” I replied softly.

I wonder why the mere suggestion that I look tired nearly always makes me yawn? Predictably, I broke into a full yawn as I watched mother and son make their way down the hall to check out. I seriously wondered how I could make it through the rest of the day. I was really more than just a little tired; I was bone tired. Yes, I had been on call for the weekend, but it was the late-night discussion I had had with one of my older children (and the ensuing insomnia!) that was the real culprit in my fatigue. He had been ready to talk earlier, but, as usual, it had taken a couple of hours for me to get my dad ready for the night and the younger children tucked in. So many plates to spin!

Our family is growing. And yes, it is sometimes a painful process! When Mary and I decided to homeschool our children, we anticipated bumps in the road. We figured there would be friends and family skeptical of the decision and resistance from the educational establishment and society in general. We understood and made a conscious decision to embrace the self-sacrifice needed to fulfill what we felt was a mandate from God (Deuteronomy 6:7) to take control of the educational process.

What we did not count on was that the educational process is ongoing: our children continue to need our instruction long after they receive their diploma from Rodger’s Rigorous Academy! I’ve also discovered that teaching a math lesson to a 10-year-old is far easier than teaching a life lesson to a 20-year-old. True, there are more numerous problems to address with our youngsters, but the problems of our older children are so much more complex and often have lifelong implications. Mary and I are striving together with our adult children as they encounter the trials and tribulations of the Christian life. Praise God for the guaranteed wisdom and the joy that are available for the journey (James 1)!

Even as our family is growing in body mass, it is growing in numbers. It’s not what you think. Our “baby” is 8. My father joined our household in the summer of 2010. Since my dad lost his leg to gangrene and his memory to multiple strokes, my 90-year-old mother was no longer able to cope. Dad is now a permanent resident in our living room. Mom lives next door and visits. Daily.

Mary’s mom and dad live 25 miles to the north. Both are suffering the relentless effects of aging. Technically, they live by themselves, but to say they live independently would certainly be a misnomer. The family has been taking turns staying with Mary’s parents at night, and Mary spends Wednesdays there cleaning, cooking, visiting—doing whatever needs to be done.

I am laughing out loud as I write this; God often requires us to practice what we preach! Following is a quote from an article I wrote for the November/December 2006 Court Report:

It goes without saying that spending time with older people is a prerequisite to reaping the benefit of their knowledge and wisdom. Now, granted, spending time with our elders can be a bit frustrating. Sometimes the educational opportunities are accompanied by distractions, rabbit trails, and the needs of those who are living in a season of life different from our own. We are all busy, and when we lay aside our own agendas to focus on what is important to others, our patience is tested. But when done with the right attitude, this exercise in self-denial is pleasing to God. And when we please God, He blesses us—sometimes in ways we could never have forseen, sometimes “beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20; New American Standard Bible).

And then in the same article:

Caring for our elders is the opportunity to demonstrate to our children the love of God in a practical way. It is the “lab” part of Love 101, an entry-level course in which we are all enrolled for a lifetime.

Wow! I had no idea five years ago what the future held! We are stretched, but God is abundantly blessing us.

Is your family, like ours, experiencing some “growing pains”? Do you find yourself occasionally juggling diapers and Depends? I am reminded often of the admonition, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9; KJV). My friend, don’t give up! Remain faithful to the task to which you have been called! A harvest is promised to those who stay in the field.

About the author

Rodger Sayre, MD, FAAFP, has been an HSLDA board member since 1997. He and his wife, Mary, have graduated 6 of their 11 children and continue to teach the rest at home in Pennsylvania. Dr. Sayre is certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Medicine and is a Geisinger Medical Group associate with a busy practice in Tunkhannock.