If you are an overachiever like me, then you don’t enjoy disappointing your authority figures. After spending 30 years making sure that my teachers, camp counselors, college RA’s and bosses were all pleased with my performance, I have now transferred my people-pleasing energy onto the next obvious figure: my child’s pediatrician.
When I bring my children in for checkups, I don’t want to hear any bad news (“that eczema doesn’t seem to be clearing up”) or learn about new things that I have to introduce into our routine (“time to start flossing your three-year-old’s teeth!). Of course, I want my children to be healthy (duh), but I also want to hear about how good of a job I am doing as a parent.
If I don’t get a nice pat on the back for how awesome my kids are doing, then I spend the whole rest of the day feeling like I’m walking around with a C on my report card. So in order to ensure that I continue getting high marks, there are a few teeny weenie things that I kindofsortof don’t exactly tell the whole truth about regarding the care and upkeep of my children. These are my confessions:
1. Doctor, I know you told me to get a humidifier to help with my son’s persistent stuffy nose. So I bought it. But then the directions that came with it said I had to change the water every night and disinfect it with white vinegar weekly, and I just got really tired reading them and decided to keep it in the box.
2. When I called, your office told me to only give my baby Advil on days when he really seemed like he was in pain from teething. But some nights I give it to him anyway because he’s taking goddamn forever to fall asleep.
3. I only took him to the dentist once, after a good friend had a great experience taking her two-year-old to the same practice. I had to hold my son’s lower half in an arm lock while a nurse pinned down his arms so that the dentist could look into his mouth for half a second and then charge me $85. We have never been back. He is three and a half.
4. You told us to sleep train our baby as early as possible, like we did with our first son. We attempted it, but decided that since he was such a nice baby we didn’t want him to experience a second of unhappiness, ever. We threw “cry it out” out the window, and I nurse him to sleep for every nap and bedtime. But when you ask how he is sleeping, I just smile and say “great”.
5. I would ask you how long alcohol stays in your bloodstream and if it is OK to nurse the baby first thing in the morning after my date-night martini and two glasses of wine, but I am afraid I won’t like your answer so I am staying Mom, I mean mum.
6. My three-and-a-half-year-old still drinks milk from a bottle first thing in the morning and before bedtime. I’m sure his teeth are fine, and his Mommy Issues even better.
7. On mornings when nothing seems to occupy my 10-month-old and I absolutely must get something like emptying the dishwasher done, I let him play with the morning’s Post. Sometimes he eats it and I don’t really do anything to stop him. I’ll work on feeding him the New York Times instead though.
8. Huge no-no, I know, but there is a big fat bumper in my baby’s crib and it has been there since he was about four months old. It is really pretty, and it was expensive (part of a set from Serena & Lilly) so . . .
9. Per your advice, I have set boundaries and disciplined my children with time outs so that I never feel like they are out of controlxK::””\kalsdkfj _)#@$. Oops, sorry. My son just decided it was his turn on Mommy’s computer but he gave it back, finally, after I told him that he is not the boss of me and let him go to town on a pack of Skittles.
10. I have been putting the baby to sleep on his belly since Week Two. If I told you, I might have been booted from your practice.
And so, Mom Friends, if you are reading this and nodding along, know that there are other Secretly Bad Apples out there just like you who are lying through their teeth when they see their child’s pediatrician. Or, at the very least, know there’s just this one Mama, who, if her pediatrician is reading this right now, might just need to ask you for a suggestion for another practice. Maybe in another city.
Image from “The Vagaries of Fashion” Anja Rubik by Miles Aldridge for Vogue Italia September 2007.