The Dreams of Dr. Mommy

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I find my husband in bed with a towel on his forehead and a key stuck in his mouth. I start to laugh, but am shushed by my daughter who solemnly informs me:

“Daddy is not well. I’m taking his temature. I’m the doctor.”The Dreams of Dr. Mommy

Ordinarily I would take the opportunity – rare as they are — to slip out of the room and go reply to email or read a book. But this time it’s different. My daughter is barely three and she’s playing doctor!

“Isn’t she a little young for this?” I ask my husband, with obvious pride.

He takes the key out of his mouth and replies: “She must have seen it on television.”

Patiently my daughter sticks the key back down his throat. Then she piles books, a doll and puzzle pieces on his belly.

“Voodoo medicine,” my husband lisps through the key.

“Isn’t this kind of great that she wants to play doctor?” I prod.

“Being a doctor isn’t what it used to be,” he says.

Undaunted, I hop in bed beside him and announce that I’m not feeling very well either. Visions of my daughter in scrubs, looking smart like Ellen Pompeo on Grey’s Anatomy, pop into my head.

Flash forward: I’m tan and wrinkled by a sunlit pool playing bridge with my old lady friends.

“Did I mention that my daughter found a cure for cancer?” I ask.

“A million times,” my friend Kim replies. “Now play your card.”

Back on the bed, my daughter feels my forehead. “Hot,” she says.

My husband hands her the key. “Take mommy’s temperature,” he says. She sticks the key in my mouth. “No, it’s not all the way in,” he says. She jams it in further, the metal cracking against my teeth. Painful, but we all need to make sacrifices.

“Great bedside manner,” my husband jokes, as he slips out of bed and runs off to check a cycling race on his computer. I remain still as my daughter piles on the books and the doll and the puzzle pieces.

It’s getting annoying, though, sucking on a key and so I pull it out and ask her to read it. “No,” she says and jams it in again. “Mommy is sick.”

A month later my daughter gets a doctor’s kit for Christmas from her Uncle Simon. (He tells me he had me in mind, more than her. Am I so transparent?)

She barely looks at it and I don’t push it. I don’t want to scare her off.

Then early one Saturday morning shortly after Christmas we’re sitting by our still decorated tree (I can never bear to take it down). My daughter tells me that I don’t look too good and makes me lie on the couch. I quickly comply.

She looks into her kit, slightly confused. She’s seen a medicine bottle before and so pulls it out. After that, she’s lost. She doesn’t know what to do with the tools. I catch her glancing at the Lego set and so tell her I’ll be the doctor to show her how it works. She gets comfortable on the couch, neatly spreading her princess gown around her.

I try to find my pulse, thinking that ought to interest her. Sadly, I can’t find it and she’s close to jumping up. I open her kit and use the plastic stethoscope and then check her blood pressure, putting the little cuff around her arm and pumping the small balloon. I look into her ears and knock on her knees with the other tools. I’ve no clue what to do with the tweezers and so use them to squeeze her fingers. She’s really getting into it and so I tell her it’s her turn to be the doctor and try to get on the couch. She won’t budge.

“I’m not feeling well,” I say. “If only there were a doctor…”

“I’m not the doctor,” she says. “You’re doctor mommy. I’m the beautiful princess.”

Image by Sweet Caroline Design & Photo

Stephanie is a writer in London. She’s lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, where (until the Russians bombed in August 2008) she produced a radio show on politics, business, social issues and culture, and in Lu ...read more

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