Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Best Lie I Ever Told

To be fair, I don’t really know it was a lie—I’m just not sure it was the whole truth. It was Mother’s Day in France (which, coincidentally, is not the same day as Mother’s Day in the U.S.). My husband had organized a lovely day for me. Suddenly, my 3 year old sent forth a blood-curdling scream. I ran into his room to find him in bed, in obvious pain. It was his ear.

Of course it was his ear. His nose had been running for a week and the worse the cold got, the more he wanted his pacifier. Now I know that if you go to a doctor, they tell you that it is unrelated, but it simply isn’t true. Just like when they tell you that sugar intake has no effect on your child’s behavior. OK, doc, I’ll give you $1,000 to be a preschool teacher the day after Halloween.

We’re in France. We don’t have a pediatrician here, so I called our pediatrician in the U.S. Just when I was starting to think he was going to send a prescription, he said the dreaded words: “He really needs to be seen by somebody.” I tried to tell him that it was impossible, that France shuts down on each and every Sunday and this was Mother’s Day besides, but my son’s tearful plea confirmed that I had no choice.

Considering that I was trying to explain my son’s medical history—in French—to a doctor who was trying to lip-read over the sound of my (kicking and) screaming son, it went pretty well. He diagnosed an ear infection and gave us a prescription. Alex would shortly be on the mend, but I had had enough.

When we got back, I declared war. My children had loved their pacifiers from day 1. The pacifiers had saved me (a number of times), and that is why they were still welcome in my home, but it was over. I told my children that the pacifiers had hurt Alex’s ears and then I boldly cut the tip off each and every one of them.

I was scared. I had no idea if this was going to work. I had no idea if I was ever going to sleep through the night again. But, worse, it was Sunday and if it didn’t work, there would be no stores open to buy more.

I may have lied to my children, but we’ve had no ER visits since. Maybe, if you really believe it, it isn’t a lie after all… especially on Mother’s Day.

UPDATE: They say that fear is one of the best motivators (for better or worse) and, apprently, it is true. The fear of going back to the doctor, of extreme pain in the ear, and lots of really bad medicine was motivation enough. There was a logic to it, three year old logic that is, so he actually seems to have accepted it. Every once in a while Kate, my youngest, will ask for one but when she discovers the tip is gone, she gives it back and says "Mommy, you take it- it's broken." A month later, it is still the best lie I ever told.