Today let's discuss a widely-known but rarely documented phenomenon that every mother has experienced. I would like to propose to the American Academy of Pediatrics that we call this disorder, heretofore unnamed, Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis. Let's discuss.
Say, for example, your four-year-old son spends the entire weekend fever-ridden with a sore throat. By the time Monday morning arrives, he is miserably ill and couch-prone. Neither of you has slept, so you fall asleep on the couch during Go, Diego, Go and fail to call the pediatrician the minute they open. You finally call, only to find that you must beg and plead for them to squeeze you in, which they cannot do until 3 pm. Meanwhile, your four-year-old patient has begun wailing "my froat! my froat!", and spends the rest of the day in agony.
Bear with me, this is where the disorder becomes serious.
Appointment time rolls around, and you manage to make arrangements for the older kids to play at a friend's house, because of course, they are home from school today (research shows that the likelihood of Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis is directly proportional to the amount of trouble you took to get to the doctor). You, the patient, and the baby drive to the doctor on sheets of solid ice (see statement, before) and skate across the parking lot. You reach the waiting room, by which time your little patient is whimpering in agony. As you check in, he wails, "I fink my froat is bleeding!" and all the other mothers gather their children so they will not catch your child's Ebola. Finally, finally, they call you back to the exam room. Oh, you are relieved--your precious child will finally be cared for! But a funny thing has happened.
Your child is no longer sick.
Apparently, there is a miraculous healing agent floating in the air of exam rooms that causes children to become instantly well right before the doctor comes in. The little boy who, one hour ago, was writhing in agony on the couch is now having sword fights using tongue depressors and pressing every button on the exam table. He is laughing and making goofy faces while you explain to the nurse how miserable he is feeling. She leaves, and you find yourself grabbing your child and saying through gritted teeth, "You'd better start acting sick, right now!"
As I said, this is a frequently occurring phenomenon that is deserving of its place in the medical text books. With a footnote, of course, that the only cure for Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis appears to be a Waste-a-co-pay-ectomy.
This post was originally published on February 20, 2006.