Ok. I’ll admit it. I’ve got a secret agenda. For twenty years now, I have been trying to grow a cardiologist. I buy doctor kits, plastic stethoscopes, bandages, biology books…I promise to help with tuition.
It’s not working.
No matter how many textbooks I buy, no matter how many educational “field trips” to the doctor we have made, I got nowhere. I can’t tell you how many hours we have spent playing cardiologist. When I only had daughters, I deliberately chose only female doctors and dentists, hoping the girls could see role models around them. That didn’t work, either. Once, on an urgent care visit, a male doctor entered the room and my daughter thought he was a fake. In her experience, only girls were doctors. I did try hard.
For all my efforts, the closest I got was a child interested in the Boy Scout First Aid Manual. Then she got mad because she couldn’t be a Boy Scout. But that is another story.
The first Barbie my daughter had was a doctor. I finally caved on the whole Barbie thing, because she came with a lab coat and stethoscope. But you know what? Within a short amount of time, she was wearing strapless ball gowns and high heels. What a sham.
“Don’t worry, she’s still a doctor, Mom!” my then-three-year-old assured me. “She’s just a pretty doctor!”
My plans have failed.
Until this week.
Somehow, after twenty years of playing doctor and performing play surgery with spoons and dolls, the tide seems to have turned. Someone is interested.
For the last week, this child has awoken early, donned a white sweater that is her “lab coat”, and proceeded to give shots to the whole family. Dog included. I have had my “blood drawn” with her yellow Crayola crayon fifteen times. The box of Band-aids contents are dwindling, and the bathroom wastebasket is overflowing with plastic exam gloves. Really. She found my box of gloves for oil painting (I don’t like solvents on my hands, thank you) and I discovered she is using a new pair for every band-aid application. A roll of toilet tissue makes a very fine cast, did you know that?
It’s been an intense week.
Last night, I sat melting into the couch, exhausted from the busy day.
“Will you brush my hair like you used to, Dear?” I asked Small One.
“No, Mom. It’s time for a blood draw.” She responded.
I am losing. Twenty years of efforts, and all I really want right now is a little attention. Maybe a Mommy Makeover so I can sit on the couch in a coma and feel petted and loved.
But she wraps my upper arm in an elastic hairband, and tells me to make a fist instead.
“Gotta get a good one this time, Mom” she says as she feels my veins.
This makes me question all I have ever stood for. Who wants to play cardiologist, anyway? Isn’t it more fun to have your hair done and your eyebrows waxed than to have thoracic surgery? How did I fail to show them the importance of a good haircut or an occasional foot massage? I failed.
Ah, well. Perhaps this won’t last, either. No matter how we as parents promote and groom our kids for their futures, the bottom line is that the future is theirs.
It belongs to them.
When it comes right down to it, the choice to wear high heels or toilet tissue on their feet is theirs alone. My job is to keep on being Mom, because that is what I chose for myself so long ago… And to love my kids and support them no matter what they choose to become.
I have to go now. The doctor just called my name.