November 19, 2013


My four-year-old daughter espouses the merits of what sounds like fertilizer on our way to her checkup. Like in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, you have to put all the stuff you don't eat into the earth so you can grow more food. What is the doctor going to do?

Because I am a teacher, I prepare for the exam. We role play the questions. Do you brush your teeth? I ask. Mom, you know I brush my teeth, she says. What do you eat? I ask. Mac and cheese, chocolate, popcorn, and lollipops, she answers, truthfully. I try to imply that she eats more than that, and doesn't mommy put lots of fruit in your lunch and veggies in your dinner? That gets a huge laugh. What do you like to do? She perks up. Watch mooooovies! I refrain from suggesting she not talk about how much t.v. she watches. What comes out in the wash comes out, and I remind myself that more than one person said It's o.k. Unless it's like, four straight hours.

The doctor's appointment: it's like my report card, but from the most non-judgemental people in the medical profession. It was the husband-wife pediatric team that talked me down off the ledge when I brought in my 18-month-old middle child who had no issue, save for a mother that felt like she was drowning from sleep deprivation; it was my kids' doctor who assured me that I wasn't the first person to feel completely inept at parenting and it was his wife, the nurse, who told me that my and my husband's jobs during the first few years of parenting three kids were primarily keeping them fed, clean, and happy.

Yet I can't help but crave some kind of approval.

Her temperature, weight, height, vision, all normal. Then the questions begin.

Do you know your colors? The nurse asks.

Yes, my sweet daughter answers, every one except for green. Hmm.

How about your numbers? My daughter takes in the question and decides that she does.

Do you brush your teeth? That's an easy one.

What do you eat? What are your favorite foods?

I watch my daughter's wheels spin in her blonde head.  She sits up straight: My faaaavorite foods (she's turning it on, now) are carrots and broc-co-li! Yum, I LOOOOVE broccoli! My girl looks at me for approval--clearly I've subliminally persuaded her to lie and tell 'em what they want to hear. The nurse looks at me askance. I shake my head that no, that's not quite the case. Broc-co-li was last night's dinner's drama.

The nurse inspects her little body. I am not sure how she looks it over and manages to not want to bite all the parts I want to bite and kiss and nuzzle. I am silently grateful that she is dry, no accidents (yet).

Aren't you going to check my eyes and my nose? she offers her head forward for inspection. The nurse tickles her cheek and my daughter fake laughs her "cute laugh," the one that sounds like kid laughter on a toy commercial. And now we're both seeking feedback.

Does she drink milk? The dreaded question. My kid gave up milk this year in all it's forms: the smells of cheese and yogurt and cottage cheese make her run out of the kitchen, holding her nose like a clothespin, screaming Eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwww! I explain that we're trying soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk! my girl chimes in. The nurse quietly offers alternatives. We move on to how to disguise vegetables into everyday meals, but I know my kid is on to me, so I make the conversation overt. I suggest that I make her a spinach ice cream smoothie.

What color would that be? The nurse asks, smiling.

Pistachio! Says my daughter.

And what color is pistachio?

She smiles and rolls her eyes to the ceiling. See! she says, I told you I don't know green!

The visit is nearly over when the nurse asks my daughter what she's learning. Spanish, swimming, dance, she lists on her little fingers. M is for Mexico and I is for Israel. The nurse scribbles some notes and mutes her amusement so as not to invite antics. The visit is done. She invites my daughter to get dressed, and my daughter falls apart.

Falls apart. Tears all over the place.

Where's my TREAT?!? she explodes. You said I could have a treat if I got a shot!

I remind her that she got her flu shot yesterday, and that she did, indeed, have a lollipop.

Now she is naked and crying, and it's all my problem, because the nurse politely makes her way out of the room, wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving!

Between her sobs, I tell my daughter to say goodbye back--C'mon, whaddaya say?--to no avail. The sobs turn to wails, and all I can do is put her back on the exam table and nuzzle her back to laughing. And though given two more chances to say goodbye to the gracious nurse on our way out, she doesn't, but instead flashes a smile and licks the glass door.


Meridyth said...

HAHAHA! Oh my goodness, Monica - too funny. Not your worry, of course, but funny because I so recognize the same situation. You are smart though, to only take one child. I make the mistake of thinking it will be easier to do them both at the same time. This last time, I am surprised the doctor didn't report my bad children to the authorities (or me for being a bad parent!).

Meridyth said...

Oh and when Henry was 5 he licked the train window while we were on a college field trip. I still get questions about why he did that. Like anyone can explain that behavior!! And the occasional 4 straight hours of TV won't really kill all of their brain cells :-) You are doing a great job!

Nina Badzin said...

I think we have all had experiences like this, but it is certainly more fun following you and your daughter along on this one.

That end is perfect. You couldn't have written it better if it had been a script. Licked the door. Yup--of course she did!

monica gebell said...

Nina, thanks--so glad you stopped by! :)