July 15, 2004

Of Worry, Toothpaste and the Advice Nurse

I thought of this while reading Michele's worrywart post today. Of course, her worrywarting is several thousand orders of magnitude more sweeping in its scope than mine could ever be, but we do have one thing in common: an over-protective, worried mother.

Since I'm an only child and my mom has always, always been a little high on the paranoid meter, I developed a multiple-stage defense mechanism early on: neglect to inform mother of potentially hazardous doings in my life; when she discovers said doings, deflect with sarcasm; then finally move to confrontation and refusal to speak of it further. It's a flawed system, but nine times out of ten I never have to go past DefCon 2 on the Mom Meter, and we have a pretty good relationship.

I've mentioned before that becoming a grandmother has sent mom over the edge, worry-wise. Her latest manifestation of Grandma Syndrome occurred last weekend, when she called me out of the blue and the conversation went like this:

Me: Hello?
Mom: Is there any way The Boy can get to your toothpaste?
Me: (Knowing exactly where this is going and desperately trying to stop it) No, and he uses a special toddler toothpaste that has no flouride because I know that flouride is an evil, deadly poison and GodOnlyKnowsWhatCouldHappen if he ingested even a microbe of the foul, foul, devil's brew.
Mom: (Undeterred) Well, I was reading this article today and it said that if a toddler swallows regular toothpaste you should call poison control.
Me: I know, mother.
Mom: Well, I just wanted to make sure.
Me: You thought I was brushing his teeth with flouride toothpaste, didn't you?
Mom: (Pause that lasts just a little too long, betokening guilt) Of course not, I just wanted to be sure.
Me: Uh-huh.
Mom: So, when are you coming to visit?

This sort of thing drives me nuts, but because it's my mom, I can handle it. It's when the advice is coming from another source and that source is condescending that I snap. Like when it's coming from the Hell Nurse at my pediatrician's office. For the record, I think my pediatrician and her entire staff are the kindest, most patient, wonderful people EVER. But there's this one advice nurse who makes me want to kill her every time she returns a call to me, because she talks too fast, talks too much and has absolutely no people skills.

The first time she called me back I had asked a question about Benadryl dosages for The Boy's mild allergies and she said, and I quote (because believe me, this one's burned into my brain), "Well, obviously the people at your daycare are trying to sedate your son."

Ooookay. Never mind that I had explicitly told her that a) The Benadryl was our last resort as the Dimetapp wasn't working, b) It was the pediatrician's suggestion that we try it if the Dimetapp didn't work and that c) She knows nothing about me, the daycare I send The Boy to, or anything else. But hey, feel free to slander my mothering skills, you fast-talking, condescending, omniscient bitch. I'm sure you'll go far. She became my nemesis on that day, and although I have managed not to drive to the pediatrician's office and punch her, the thought of so doing gives me comfort.

So when she called me back about a skin question this week, I braced myself. First, she informed me that I needed to leave longer messages because if I didn't then the phone call would just end up being longer. To which I replied, "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. You talk so fast I'm sure you get all your calls done in half the time." And lo, I got some decent, brief advice, with only one implied slur against my mothering skills because I allow The Boy to ingest juice.

As vicious digs go it was sub-par, but I'm a quick learner, and my lag time between "What did she just say?" and "Oh, HELL NO!" has gotten much shorter. One day I shall leave her to hang up the phone and realize too late that she's been SERVED. And on that day, there will be much rejoicing.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at July 15, 2004 02:11 PM

JUICE? What the hell? If juice was not served in this household, bowel movements would occur on a biweekly basis. All hail the healing properties of juice! Please serve the know-it-all advice nurse!

Posted by: Belle at July 15, 2004 03:31 PM

I suggest you burst into tears and sob, "You think I'm a terrible mother! And I AM!" Then hang up the phone and don't pick it up when it rings.
: )

Posted by: Laura at July 15, 2004 09:24 PM

I am becoming more and more convinced that the last people you should listen to when it comes to health questions are doctors and nurses. They seem to live in a world where nothing normal should ever be ingested or used on the skin, only some artificial chemical that some researcher hired by the manufacturer says "may not be of benefit but does no harm, except for the follow side effects..."

Posted by: bigdocmcd at July 16, 2004 01:19 PM

Never talk to your mother. The worst that happens then is that you get mail reporting 30 years of bad news, ending with LOVE underlined twice. Fortunately it's mostly illegible.

Maybe you like to deal with it, though. It's possible. To each his own.

For me it's more like you wish them well but the price of interaction is too high. Some chapter is missing from Games People Play, entitled ``Mothers.''

Posted by: Ron Hardin at July 16, 2004 05:15 PM