Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Mother's Manual
As most of you know, I am a mother and a Doctor.
I have two kids, a 15 and 13 year old son and daughter. They are in their obnoxious years.
I keep telling them that all of the annoying things that I do are in the Mother's Manual. For example, I sing in public. Loudly. The Mother's Manual says, (and I quote), "It is your solemn responsibility as a mother to routinely embarrass your children in public. For example, sing loudly, yell across the school parking lot at the top of your lungs that you love them. Kiss them in public. Children cannot grow into responsible adults requiring years of psycho-therapy without these kinds of incidents to talk about to their shrinks."
The Mother's Manual has really helped me through the years. "Children must play outside and must only be allowed back in the house if they're bleeding or a snake bit them." It's there. I swear.
There are handy recipes in there too. Take for example, the late night "I'm too f*&^ing tired to Cook" recipe called the "Johnny Appleseed Sandwich". This is especially good for youngsters who can't cook yet. Take an apple and cut it up into tiny pieces, put the pieces in a bowl. Pour raisins in another bowl. Put out the peanut butter and wonder bread. Spread a drop cloth on the floor. Tell them to make their sandwiches by slathering on the peanut butter first, then adding the apples and raisins. Voila. Dinner. When they're done, roll up the drop cloth and pour the mess into the dog's bowl. Of course this doesn't work if there are peanut allergies in the home.
The Mother's Manual is also very explicit about how to engage your children in helping with the chores. As soon as they learn their colors, set them to work sorting laundry.
When you're sure they won't drown/fall into the toilet, put a rag into their tiny little hands and teach them how to clean the bathroom. Dusting is always a good one. I f(*#ing HATE dusting. I think it is a giant waste of time. IT just comes RIGHT BACK the next week. I only dust for special occasions --like the Pope is coming over for a visit. So the kids got the swiffer duster technique taught to them. Once a year.
Okay, so the Mother's Manual never mentioned ASTHMA except under the "When to panic" section.
When my eldest was 12 or 13, we were at El Mercado on Southport, in Chicago, (an amazingly great South American Grocery store) getting ingredients for a Peruvian dish to surprise my husband. Suddenly, my son starts wheezing. I didn't notice, of course, because I was paying for the stuff we'd bought. Daughter says, "Mom, Tom can't breathe!"
I figure he's faking it and ignore him. The Mother's Manual says that most of the time, the kids are hypochondriacs and are making shit up. Daughter becomes more urgent. "Mom! He REALLY can't breathe! I think he's wheezing." (Being a doctor's child bestows diagnostic skills upon even the youngest).
Sure as shit, the kid wasn't faking! (I felt just FABULOUS at that moment). I put my ear on his back and listened and heard loud scary wheezing. Of course, Tom panics which makes it worse. We walk slowly back to the car in the humid hot weather, and the CUBS ARE PLAYING and traffic is TERRIBLE. I'm thinking, "Should I call 911 to come to my car?"
I try the old Mom routine of being calmer than I feel. Inside I'm screaming, "Holy ^*t" and "What if he dies in the car? What if he stops breathing?" He's never had asthma!
My doctor brain KEEPS TRYING to talk sense into my MOTHER brain and tells it to STOP FREAKING OUT. I calm him down by joking around and all the time trying to get around the A-HOLES holding up traffic on the way to Swedish Covenant. DON'T THEY KNOW I'VE GOT A SICK KID IN THE BACK? Oh yeah, they don't. I try not to drive like a crazy person. All this time I'm trying to keep my panic down so Tom doesn't panic and make his asthma attack worse.
I'll admit it. I pulled the Doctor Card when I hit the ER door. The Mother's Manual allows for obnoxious behavior in the event of an emergency. "Do what it takes to get the care you need for your child, short of prostitution and drug running." (Again, I quote).
Fortunately, the ER doctor saw him right away (the doctor card really helps) and got him started on medication immediately. He was fine, and now has asthma and we deal with it. Of course, just like the Mother's Manual said would happen, the sick kid wanted special privileges. Here, it is very explicit. You may indulge a sick kid for a day, no longer. BOYS especially cannot be indulged for too long because they already have the handicap of thinking they are dying when they catch a cold. Women/girls power through. Men and boys are convinced they are dying. Don't start the pattern in childhood and society has a chance of winning this battle against wanting to be pampered as adults."
My daughter keeps asking me, "When do I get to SEE the Mother's Manual?"
"Not until you have children of your own, dear." I smile. She is now thirteen. I wonder how much longer she'll believe me?