My son has a toy stethoscope. I’ve been showing him how I use mine. He now loves being my doctor and I don’t mind being his patient. However, I should probably also teach him that he can’t go around lifting up my shirt, or anyone else’s for that matter, on a whim just because he thinks he’s a doctor.
One evening, while I was sifting through all the junk that had accumulated on the dining table, my son came to me and said he wanted to make sure I was breathing. Such a thoughtful little guy.
He runs to grab his toy stethoscope. He comes charging back with all the dramatic urgency of a code blue. Lifting the back of my shirt, he then slams the stethoscope onto my lower back. Gentle touch still eludes him.
Then… silence, except for the sound of my exaggerated breathing. In and out. In and out. He’s concentrating hard. I wanted to reassure him that I was indeed still breathing.
But the little doctor discovered a new concern on his exam. A small dot. A mole, if you want to get specific.
Mommy, look! What is it??
I think it’s a mole, buddy.
Mole?? What dat? Mommy, you have owie?
No sweetie, it’s not an owie. I’m okay.
Unconvinced, he asks again with urgency and concern,
Mommy have owie? You need bandaid??
No sweetie, it doesn’t need a bandaid. Thank you though.
My son looked up at me with genuine empathy and concern. I love it when he’s so serious.
Mommy, you need kiss? You need kiss make owie feel better!
Now I am not one to deny a kiss from my son, owie or no owie.
Sure buddy, I would love a kiss!
And with that, my son gave me the most gentle of kisses on the ailing dot on my back.
To my surprise, I felt better. I didn’t even know I had a need in the first place.
Maybe my son does understand gentleness after all.
And maybe he really does know a thing or two about what it means to be a doctor. To care, encourage, and strengthen another person. To desire and pursue that, even if there aren’t satisfactory answers. The perspective of healthcare from the eyes of a toddler is refreshing, humbling, and challenging.
Sometimes the owie is real. Sometimes it’s not.
But sometimes there’s a lot more to being a doctor than just fixing the owie.