Losing The Battle Of The Sexes To My 10-Year-Old

We have tried to raise our children color-blind and gender-blind. And so far, I think we’re doing an okay job of it. Hesitant to pat myself on the back. Eyes wide open enough to see that maybe our bias might slip once in awhile. But feeling pretty confident we’re raising two open-minded young men.

We’re balanced. (And my husband, who practices Chinese Medicine, would be happy with that assessment.) 

That being said, I need to make you aware of a few facts.

1. Our “pediatrician” is a Certified Nurse Practitioner.

2. Our CNP has amazing credentials, works with a group of equally amazing doctors and has been practicing for over 30 years.

3. We, and by we I mean all of us, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our CNP.

4. We would make our CNP a member of our family if that wouldn’t be crossing any personal/professional boundries.

5. We call our CNP Dr. Alex.

6. Dr. Alex is female.

6. My boys are about to hit puberty.

I purposely schedule their wellness visits smack dab in the middle of summer. Germaphobe that I am, I refuse to take them when their birthdays actually fall, late winter and early spring. And we rarely (Thank you, Chinese Medicine!) need to go the doctor except for the wellness visits.

We had their wellness visit this week.

“Well, how are my two favorite boys?” Dr. Alex sings as she walks into the exam room. “I haven’t seen you in forever! How are you enjoying your summer?”

Eyes glued to the floor. A barely audible “fine” squeaks out of one boy. I can’t tell which one.

“#1son, are you still playing baseball? How is the season going?” she asks.

“Okay.” Eyes still boring a hole in the tile floor.

“And #2son, are you playing this year?”

“No. I swim,” said almost in a whisper.

“But you’re playing this fall,” I chime in, embarrassed that my boys are being so rude, so quiet, so not like themselves.

The entire exam goes along this way but Dr. Alex barely notices. Chatting along with me like the “old friends” we’ve become. We both have children in the same university. We’re both about the same age. So she and I have plenty to catch up on. She still tries to engage the boys as she asks them to breath deeply, touch their toes, look up. No response.

There is a glimmer of hope when she gets on the computer and shows them where they fall on the growth chart. #1son will be around 6’2″ when he grows up and #2son around 5’11”. This pleases them both immensely. Their father is all of 5’7″ and #1son is the same nationality as his barely 5 foot sister, so his fears are dashed that he, too, will follow that ethnic stereotype.

But as soon as she turns back to them to ask them if they have any more questions their heads drop immediately to their chests and they whisper in unison, “No.”

I’m mortified.

But she acts like she doesn’t notice. Which surprises me. So, I try to engage the boys. To no avail.

We say our goodbyes until next year (wink, wink) and go our merry way.

“What was that all about?” I glare at them in the backseat through the rear view mirror.

“What?” They both ask, innocently.

“You barely spoke in there. Dr. Alex was asking you questions and you barely answered. You wouldn’t look at her when she spoke to you. That was so rude!”

Silence.

“Well, what do you have to say for yourselves?”

(Insert long, dramatic pause.)

“But Mom! We were naked!”

Just to be clear, they were not naked. They had on t-shirts and underwear. But I guess, to a pre-adolescent boy, that’s about as naked as you can get. (Thank goodness!) 

And with every feminist bone in my body I’m fighting the urge to move them to one of the male doctors in the group.

But I have a feeling I’m going to lose this fight.

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

Filed under children, From The Mouths Of Babes

4 responses to “Losing The Battle Of The Sexes To My 10-Year-Old

  1. But they might have felt that way in front of a male doctor too?

  2. Aw. They grow up, and you’ve done a wonderful job with them. They probably will feel more comfortable with a male doctor. There’s nothing wrong with that. The bottom line in this gender lesson is that they don’t automatically think of doctors as male.

    I, personally only see female doctors because I feel like they have a better understanding of how I actually feel when there’s something going on with my body. Your boys may feel that way about seeing a man. He’ll relate to their issues more personally.

  3. Give them the option and see what they say. It appears to be a big deal to them. They’re growing up!

  4. Rob

    I go to a female nurse for physicals. Male of female, I am never comfortable wearing nothing but a robe – at least they are cloth, not paper.

    I remember being the age of your boys, and we had a male family doctor; but, I don’t remember having to disrobe. But, I didn’t want to bathe with my little sister anymore by the time I was 10. And when I hit 7th grade gym class and the showers – I was totally mortified at having to be naked in front of anyone.

    All children have a different sense of modesty. I agree with Dawn. Ask them. Part of growing up is learning to make decisions for yourself. They might appreciate that you respect their feelings and letting make their own choice!

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