on being "that parent"
Perhaps this is an overly strong sense of introspection on my part, but reflecting back on our dental experiences of late, I wondered if I was being "that parent;" that is to say, the kind of parent that, as a former peds resident, I dreaded. You know...THAT PARENT. One thing that I appreciate now (that I didn't appreciate when I was a peds resident, because I didn't have kids yet) was that the many of the parents that I found difficult to deal with were simply tireless advocates for their children, parents who had been around the block enough times that they realized how fallible the medical system and the people behind it really are, and as such felt the need--or perhaps to obligation--to push and prod and question every single move. As residents, people still growing into the notion that we truly belonged in those white coats, this advocacy from parents tended to rub us the wrong way. There's nothing that exposes the naked insecurity in a young doctor more than a patient (or the parent of a patient) questioning whether or not we really knew what we were doing. Do I know what I'm doing? Of course I know what I'm doing! I went to medical school! See this nametag? Says "MD" on it right here! M fucking D! Now let me go hide in a corner and consult my Harriet Lane obsessively.
Cal's doing really well, by the way. He rested on the couch after his dental appointment, took a long nap that afternoon, and since that time has been basically back to normal, with the exception of a puffy lower lip where, I think, some instruments were positioned. His gum abscess looks much, much better, and we're just going to finish out the antibiotic course for the rest of the week (as counseled by our dentist) and then return to business as usual. I did have a slight fear that our dentist would be somehow annoyed at us ("Ugh, those parents!") for starting the antibiotics in the first place, or for overstepping our bounds in some way, but since he basically told us, "Thank god you didn't wait to start him on that Augmentin" in so many words, I'm a little less concerned at being perceived as a practitioner's worst nightmare--that is to say, overly protective parents with a key to the apothecary.
I also don't know why I'm so worried about perception when it comes to me and my level of participation in my own children's medical care. The few times that I haven't spoken up in a clinical setting with my kids in an effort to be polite and unobtrusive, I've regretted it. Is my desire to be a "good patient" at odds with my efforts to be a "good parent"? Are they necessarily mutually exclusive? Part of me feels like the answer is yes: I recognize the inherent hypocrisy but I know there's nothing that a doctor loves more than a patient that just nods and says yes and defers to your every decision. We've thankfully been very lucky in that our interfaces with the medical community have been brief and goal-oriented, and we've never disagreed with any of the medical decisions that our practitioners have made, but it certainly makes me think about where the boundaries are when you are both the medical practitioner and the parent. Anyone have any insight? Where do you draw the line? For example, I personally would never administer anesthesia to a family member or someone I was close to--I think emotion gets in the way of clear-headedness. But outside of the OR, I'm still not really sure.
Anyway this entry is starting to meander and it's a school night so I'll just close with this last: I am not above using toys to defray trauma from endured unpleasantness, and this latest visit to the dentist office was no exception.
It's Cal's first Lego set. I know a lot of kids play with Legos, and it's not like he's some kind of prodigy or anything, but I really was impressed with his ability to assemble these, because some of the pieces are very, very small, and there is a fair level of complexity to these designs. (He just followed the instructions that came with the box, not like he synthesized them from scratch, but with minimal adult assistance--I just came back in the room after an hour and there they were.) I think it's going to be a Very Lego Christmas around here.