A few weeks ago I took Sophia to see a doctor because she’d been having this cough for ages, as had I.
Anyone who has spent some time with her, or heard me talk about her in the last three and a half year knows she is an active child. And by that I mean she climbs trees, jumps up and down from rocks, rides her bike and splashes in puddles. She slides across the floor, dances and sings, runs and skips, scales any climbing obstacle and swings like a monkey to get extra speed down the slides. She loves action, and we’ve never really stopped her fun times. Also, she has never really hurt herself. No broken bones, not even a fracture. No open wounds and no cuts that needed attending. In fact, I am unsure if she’s ever really been to the doctor before? Of the three, she’s the only one who’s not been taken to the ER ever, and we have mentioned this many times while touching all the wood at the same time. She just loves being active, and although this means her being high and low all the time – she’s been uninjured so far.
She does, however, have scratches. Her legs have bruises from running into this thing and that thing, her thighs have scratches from falling here and sliding down there. Her fingers have been bitten by bugs and crushed by rocks and her hair has tangled from playing in a bush and jumping on the trampoline. It is what she does – she is busy being a child, and we let her.
Just imagine this though, we take her to the doctor for a cough, and I left feeling as if I had been accused of being violent towards my child. Sophia was wearing a skirt on this day, and sandals. She sits down on the chair doing exactly what the lady asked her to do. This was a new doctor we hadn’t seen before, but she seemed nice enough. Until she asked me:
“I can see she has a lot of bruises?”
“Yes, I mean, she does a lot of playing, and you know, that happens.”
“Do you do lots of playing? Climb trees and stuff?” she asks Sophia.
She doesn’t answer immediately, not really sure what this question is. So I add:
“Trees, trampolines, rocks, bikes – you know, she loves playing with everything this little one.”
The doctor didn’t even look at me, but continues:
“Hmm… It’s not a good look, is it. All these bruises I mean. It could come from lots of things.”
At this point I am sitting there, slightly shocked, not really sure what to say about this suggestive statement. The doctor goes on, still talking to Sophia:
“You need to stop climbing trees okay? Don’t play so rough, okay? You need to be careful when you’re playing and maybe not ride your bike so much, huh?”
My poor little girl nods her head, confused as anything.
“It doesn’t look good having all those bruises, people might think that you’ve been hurt by someone.”
I take Sophia and leave, not really feeling like I understood what was going on, not until I came home and told Simon about what had happened.
And then I got angry.
Not because I was low-key accused of causing her bruises. Not because she was talking to Sophia and ignored me, her mother. Not even because she asked about them in the first place.
BUT because she had the audacity to tell MY child, my whirlwind of a child to NOT climb trees anymore? Because she told her NOT to ride her bike, and to be ‘careful’ when playing and not playing so rough?? HOW DARE SHE? How dare she, a medical professional, try to impact and change the way my daughter plays. Where does she get the right to tell her that playing rough will cause bruises WHICH DON’T LOOK GOOD! I, as her mother, and Simon, as her father have absolutely ZERO care when it comes to how she looks. She is four, and she is not going to start caring about her own body image now.
She is not going to worry about other people looking at her body and getting ‘ideas.’ She should look at those bruises, think “Oups!” and carry on playing. She should band-aid that scratch and get back on that bike. She should walk around barefoot and stub her toe and roll down hills getting grass stains on her knees. In no circumstance should anyone, let alone a stranger, Doctor or no Doctor, tell her NOT to do those things as she could get ‘unsightly’ marks on her.
I mean, Yes, How dare she insinuate that we would hurt her? I get that she has a duty of care towards her patients, but if she actually thought so, is that not jumping the gun a little? Because of some bruises on her legs? Shouldn’t she have checked out the rest of her body? Shouldn’t she have sent me out of the room and talked to Sophia alone? Should she not have contacted the authorities and started an investigation? At least maybe called us back a while after to check again?
I do not, never have and never will condone any kind of violence against children. Not in any shape or form – and those who know me know this.
I will also never tell my children to stop playing the way they play. Of course, I supervise them and do tell them to get down or stop doing something if there’s a high chance of them hurting themselves, but mostly – I let them play and have fun! Miraculously, they very often know their own limits – and because we let them, they have balance, skills and instinct that help them. They scratch their elbows and skin their knees – but nothing worse than what a band-aid and a kiss can’t fix. And hell if I’m going to stop letting them enjoy themselves. If that means being accused of hurting them, then so be it.
Because they are MY kids, and I am in charge.
And don’t you dare tell them to stop doing what they love.