Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Handprint chickens

I love crafting, though as anyone who has had the pleasure of teaching me art (the only subject I was told by the teacher not to do at GCSE, though whether because I lacked the skill or she just didn't want me in her classroom for two years who knows) will tell you, I am better at the concept than the execution. Nevertheless what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm. Hence having to share these handprint chicks. They are my daughter's hands, not mine, and come courtesy of her nursery rather than our efforts at home, though I fully intend to add them to my repertoire as number #102 of things to do with handprints when you are bored.

Incidentally, I blogged some time ago about making rainbow rice. It took ages, stank of vinegar, costs loads of money to buy the rice and the food colouring, went everywhere and I threw it out after a couple of months (though we did have some fun with it the few times we played with it). A friend of mine had a baby shortly after I had number two. We're spending a lot of time together. "I never understood," she said, "why you didn't just buy a big pack of cheap tricolour pasta and play with that instead."

She's a bloody genius. I will do that next.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A doctors' charter

We've had our fair share of contact with doctors the past few years. I certainly feel that what with pregnancies and birth and the care of our children once born, we're quids in when it comes to tax, and that's before we've even accessed the education system. It has led me to think however about what makes a good doctor. And it's rarely their actual medical skills. I was comparing two Consultants the other day, and why it was that I think one is brilliant and the other riles me. Then I realised, the latter one never introduced himself - it fell to me to ask him his name before he poked and prodded my child. Nor did he once use my child's name.

So here is my charter for doctors when dealing with child patients and their parents, for GPs and hospital doctors.

1) Names matter. Introduce yourself and ask what you should call the child. My daughter is never called by her full first name, I am not even sure she knows it. If a doctor wants to make her feel comfortable they need to used the diminutive we all use and they will only find this out by asking, not by glancing at her file. Similarly, my name matters. As I have written before, stop calling me mum.

2) Keep things private. Remember that just because a child is a child doesn't mean they don't also have a right to confidentiality and privacy. Don't start talking to me about their medical history in the corridor or waiting room.

3) Explain. It is easy to assume that just because a young child doesn't understand you there is no point explaining things to them. I believe children understand way more than we often give them credit for, and pick up an awful lot from body language and tone.

4) Be honest. Don't say something won't hurt if it will.

5) Keep listening. Just because I'm neurotic doesn't mean some of my concerns aren't justified. You know when you stop listening to me at my sixth point - well how do you know the seventh point isn't going to be the important one?

6) Ask parents what their worries are. I didn't know how to phrase my questions at one appointment, but the doctor finally managed to get it out of me. What specifically was I worried about, she asked. No one had asked me that before. It freed me to say what was on my mind, in the case the impact of radiation on fertility and cancer, and to be reassured.

7) Remember probability is meaningless to a parent. When you say something has a one in a hundred probability, we hear the one, not the hundred.

8) Talk information. There is no point telling us to steer clear of Google or avoid online forums - we won't. Far better to point us in the direction of the best sources of information.

9) Be human. I have one doctor I have seen a few times who always empathises and tells me his sons had something similar, whatever that may be, I have a hunch, based solely on the fact there is a picture in his office of him and a young girl but none of him and young boys, that his sons are made up wholly for empathetic purposes. Nonetheless I am choosing to believe him. It helps, knowing about your doctor's family, and who it is that they care about.

10) Be nice. My absolute favourite doctor always runs late. And she always apologises profusely. Which makes it okay.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

When sympathy meets empathy

A friend of mine asked me, when I was a few days overdue with child two, whether I yet felt the need to apologise to everyone I knew who had ever been overdue before me, for not being sympathetic enough. In fact I didn't feel the need to apologise until about ten days overdue, when a momentary lull in my grumpiness made me think again of all my friends who had been through the same previously. I sent them all an apology.

The same friend contacted me recently. She'd had trapped wind. She remembered me once telling her how excruciating such pain could be, and herself felt the need to apologise to everyone who had ever had it for her lack of sympathy. (I think of this when winding my baby and whenever I am tempted to be lazy and give up pre burp).

But it's now I have children that I feel I must make the biggest apology. For I understand what it must feel like to have a sixteen year old be home later than promised or a seventeen year old drive your car at night or an eighteen year old head off to the airport with a backpack. Let alone go hang gliding or scuba diving or drug taking or glacier walking. All I can do, though I know it can't possibly stop my own children doing such things, is say to my parents, and parents everywhere, how very very sorry I am.