Actually, I was a little heartbroken. (And not just because I’d much prefer she grow up to become a billionaire tech nerd.) I’m afraid my daughter’s new found desire to become a doctor has little to do with her interests (which are currently focused on puzzles and all things pink), and more to do with how much time she has spent with doctors in the two and a half years since she was born.
Don’t get me wrong –she’s a healthy kid (poo poo poo), and I feel very blessed for that. But she’s also had her fair share of accidents and illnesses. At 6 months old she pulled a cup of hot coffee on to herself on Mother’s Day, causing second degree burns on her left leg. My husband insists the scars are barely visible, but I can’t help but notice them each time I change her diaper. Over the course of the next year, she had over a dozen ear infections and multiple bouts with croup (Fortunately, we only had to go the pediatric emergency room once–she thought it was a blast because they had Barbies in the toy room). When she was 20 months old, she sustained a fracture to her leg–this mishap took place on Father’s Day, which was also one day before I was due to give birth to baby #2.
Thank goodness little Rose decided to show up almost a week late, because we spent my due date in Children’s Hospital, getting Frieda’s leg casted from toe to mid-thigh. (She got a blue cast. I was still under the illusion that I could prevent pink-mania from invading our home. Oh, how naive I was.) Not four months later, we were back at the hospital, getting tubes put in her little ears. And just two weeks ago she finished a course of antibiotics to treat strep throat.
I’ve done my best to help her understand all of it. We’ve read numerous books about going to the doctor and the hospital. We talk about it when she brings it up. I’ve also tried not to make a big deal about it, but the truth is that the medical world, and everything that goes along with it (doctor’s appointments, hospitals, and medicine) have been a big part of her life, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. There are certainly advantages. Frieda gulps down her medicine as if it were candy, and she gets just as excited for a trip to the doctor’s office as she does when we go to the indoor play space. Having her rattle off the names of her pediatrician, otolaryngologist, and orthopedist is a great party trick. And most importantly, she’s still a healthy kid. She hasn’t had any ear infections since she got her tubes (her younger sister is carrying that mantle), her leg is totally healed, and the burn scars will fade. But I still worry.
I’m not sure exactly what I worry about. My husband often reminds me that all of this has been much harder on us than it was on Frieda, and he’s probably right. She’s had lovely, kind, competent doctors, and she’s a smart, resilient kid. I suppose I have vague, nebulous fears that her latest bedtime procrastination technique of asking for medicine even though she’s not sick will develop into a lifelong hypochondria that plagues her at every turn. Like every parent, I just want my daughter to be healthy and happy. And if I can’t have that, I’ll take a reserved parking spot at the pediatrician’s office. And maybe my own mug in the breakroom.