The family business(es) strongly impact the culture that our children grow up in. We influence how they think about their work, whether they put in a 9-5, do shift work, devote enough time toward a dream business where we invest our life’s savings and energies, or make enough for the grocery bill.
We unintentionally teach them a lot about a particular profession, whether that’s university trained, artistically driven or hired through the local employment office.
Whatever it is we do, they learn the ropes from a tiny age.
For my kiddos, they’ve been doused in medical culture. When our oldest two were really little, daddy would walk toward the bathroom (next to the garage door), and they would ask for a kiss before he left…Daddy, daddy, ‘mooch, ‘mooch!” “Um…dad’s just going to the bathroom”. They were accustomed to him being called to the hospital. Still when the phone rings, everyone goes on mute.
Well, in our family, you know you’re a child from a doctor’s family, when…
- Your kids don’t play ‘doctor’, instead they play ‘hospice’.
- Your child refers to yesterday’s dessert as having “descended into their digestive systems”.
- Sex education is part of dinner, not reserved for private conversations in bedrooms.
- Delivering babies is part of the science curriculum. “Kids, what is the smallest diameter of your head? Let’s experiment putting on a tight shirt and see what part of your head fits best through the opening…”
- Your kids have helped dad in the OR (okay, it was in Africa, where little red tape exists, but they helped dad with the anaesthetic machine and stood feet away from open abdominal surgeries).
- And they’ve hung out in the ER more times than I can count–they have been babysat by unit clerks or nurses while dad had to run into the hospital and mom was inaccessible.
- The doctor is texted for pretty much anything that happens to the kids’ health—honey, she fell off the change table…she pulled a cup of tea onto herself…she says her heart is fluttering…he’s screaming crying because he sees blood from his mildly skinned knee (okay, I deal with that one).
- Your children can explain the words anaesthesia, obstetrics and ophthalmology.
- Patients and charts and referral letters—diabetes management, high blood pressure and bipolar diagnoses–words that are in their vocabulary.
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away so if you ever have an apple, dad will leave—an overused joke in our home.
- You don’t need a family doctor.
- You don’t have to worry about asking the doctor lots of questions, or Google Wikipedia, you can just ask dad, “Where’s your radius?”
- “What’s a doctor”? I ask. Zach answers, “Someone who does anaesthesia, delivers and cuts people, and gets money..” I ask, “Why would you want to be a doctor?” …”So I can cut people”.
- “Why do you want to be a doctor?” I ask Madelyn. “So I can deliver babies. But what I’m scared of is the baby’s lives being in my hands and one of them dying”.
- “What does dad do?” I ask. “He delivers babies and does anaesthesia. I remember one time he was trying help a guy but he was on too many drugs, the bad type of drugs, not the good type. But he couldn’t help because he had too many bad drugs”.
- Like father, like daughter…both realists. “I want to be a pediatrician when I grow up because I like interacting with kids, because I’m a pre-teen (8). Or I want to be a nurse. But of course my first job will be at Safeway or something”.
- “What’s dad’s favourite thing about his work?” All four answered, “Babies”.“What’s dad’s least favourite thing?” I ask. “When people come in to say: my daughter’s stubbed her toe—can you help me?” (PS not sure this has ever happened).
- You’re a ten year old kid and when mom suggests, “get in bed with quiet reading”, you choose the internal medicine text.
- Or you’re reading the Williams Obstetrics text to find a pic of a forcep. “Mom, the forceps look like two egg turner thingies! That’s gotta hurt!”
Can’t says it’s a dull household. There’s no lack of stories…or strange questions…or questions I could never have answered even in my nursing days…
Not sure if my girls will be eager to have their own babies, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be qualified to teach the prenatal course before they need to attend one. Unless of course they declare that they’d rather deliver their sister’s babies, instead of have them themselves.
Whatever your family’s ‘business’, it’s loaded with silly stories and early apprenticeships.