While this comes as no surprise to those who know me well, I’ve proudly raised two very articulate daughters. Oranges don’t fall far from the proverbial orange tree. As an older mother, I had no tolerance for baby talk. Yes, I put up with “Dada,” and “Mama,” but when I spoke to each of them it wasn’t in baby talk. My kids went to the restroom, not the potty. I expected them to rise to some semblance of my vocabulary, not me drop down to theirs.
Of course, as they matured and their vocabulary grew, so did their argumentative skills. Yes, on many occasions, I rued I’d taught them to be so forthright. But my most devastating moment occurred when my youngest was sixteen months old. She had had a very sleepless night, ran a low grade fever, and was so lethargic she didn’t even want to watch Sesame Street. As she laid in my lap, she rubbed her ear. “Does your ear hurt, princess?”
“No. I want juice.”
Juice, it was. But juice didn’t solve the ear problem, as she rubbed her lobe. Stupid Sue. Get up off the sofa and call the pediatrician. She’s running a fever; she has an ear infection.
Thankfully, the office wasn’t jammed with sick kiddos, and we were quickly ushered into an exam room. The group practice doc that day was the “Patch Adams” of the pediatrician group. He danced around the room, swinging his stethoscope, and took my kid’s temperature–a shade past 100 degrees. “I need to look in your ears with my fancy light, cutie pie.”
“Cutie pie, this won’t hurt; I promise. What’s wrong with your ear?”
Emphatic, loud, clear answer: “‘Pider in my ear.”
I was horrified. The doc looked at me like I was an unfit mother. My dreams of winning the Mother of the Year award waltzed away. The diagnosis–ear infection. Cured with an antibiotic. Yet, twenty-six years later, I still don’t know what prompted her response. Suggestions?