tripping the life unbalanced

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

adios innocence

Alice had her 3rd year doctor's appointment last week, and boy oh boy was it fun! Needles and crying! Betrayal by doctor! Screaming all the way home! Are you feeling excited yet?

It started off fine. Pretty run-of-mill stuff: how is she eating? how is she sleeping? Oh my god she's so tall. She'll tower over all her boyfriends hah hah hah. Normal side-splitting notes from my GP. We also talked about our basic parenting strategies (uh stratewhat? You mean things like making sure she is alive?) and the doctor was asking us how we deal with things like discipline. We assured her we had the all under control (read: learning as we went) and went on to tell her that one of the things we try to do with Alice is be honest with her. And this is true - we do try to tell her what's coming up next in her immediate day - even if it's icky stuff like getting a needle at the doctor's (pay attention people - this part's going to matter in a second). I was one of those kids who totally internalized a fear of doctors and dentists and needles to the point that I still carry the phobias with me. I wanted to do my best to at least prepare Alice - hey, ya know, you're going to have to get a needle. And you know what? It's probably going to hurt. But then it will be over.

So I thought the doctor heard me as I said all those things. But I guess she didn't, because before I could speak with Alice about the needle she had shoved it in her arm. And you will think I exaggerate, but I don't. It all happened so quickly. One moment we were sitting there with Alice on Matt's lap and the doctor was nodding along to our pontifications about parenting styles, and the next minute she's doing something I said we would LIKE TO TELL ALICE about first.

You can guess what happened. Alice's face fell, her eyes welled with tears, and she shot a big stink eye at the doctor. She couldn't believe she had been so intentionally hurt by all of us in the room - with no warning. I was so shocked. We both were. And then it wasn't until later in the car that I was like "did she not hear what I was saying?" (note to self: getting mad at the doctor and making rude gestures in the car after the fact does no good to anyone, especially an irratated spouse and a screaming 3 year old).

I don't profess to subscribe to one particular parenting strategy, but I do think it's a shame when adults feel we must pull the wool over kids' eyes in order to help them deal with unpleasant but necessary things. I think it does them a greater disservice by pretending that things like needles and dentists don't exist.

Off my soapbox for now.


  • Poor Alice! Poor mommy!

    I am always eternally grateful to our pediatrician, who the kids adore. And they both trust her implicitly. Even when she hurts them, because she explains it all and then apologizes.

    Do you have the option (or interest) in doctor shopping? That's just not right.

    By Blogger chichimama, at 9:45 p.m.  

  • In an old black and white movie, the urchin would kick the doctor in the shins, then grin impishly and break into a tap routine. Perhaps you could work on something like this for the next visit, and tell her "Oh, she's been watching too many Shirley Temple movies. Sorry."

    Did you still want the number of our family doctor then?

    By Blogger Marla, at 10:28 a.m.  

  • I so sympathize, as someone who grew up with EXTREME (grown woman crying extreme) needle issues for the same reasons.

    You're in Toronto? Four words: Women's College Family Practice (esp. Team One).

    Thanks for the visit to my site!

    By Blogger Her Bad Mother, at 11:34 a.m.  

  • Wow. Sounds like that doctor missed the sensitivity chapter in med school.

    I agree with the honest parenting approach as well, although i admit sometimes it does seem easier to avoid certain subjects.

    I learned an important lesson a few years ago when my mother-in-law passed away. She was extremely close to my two daughters who were 4 and 6 at the time. My husband and I weren't sure how to approach her last days in the hospital, the funeral, etc, and our pediatrician gave us some invaluable advice. She said that it's a common mistake that parents make, trying to shield pain and grief from her kids, but what it does is just create an atmosphere of sadness that the kids are confused about because they aren't a part of it. We took her advice, and although difficult at times, it was an important experience for our kids.

    Oh geez. What a long, rambling comment. Okay, I'm off MY soapbox now.

    By Anonymous sweatpantsmom, at 4:44 p.m.  

  • Tomorrow is a new day.

    By Anonymous Casinos Review, at 7:55 p.m.  

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