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The Informed Parent

You Have To Laugh: Kids Say The Darndest Things

by Louis P. Theriot, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jan. 01, 1997

I believe it was Art Linkletter who once said, "kids say the darndest things!".

Albeit true, adults come out with some genuine "pearls" themselves. I am reminded of a nice couple who brought their 3-year-old daughter to the office one day.

A true 90's family, both parents were career professionals...quite successful in their respective fields, I might add. They were smartly dressed, and complete with cellular phones, lap top computer, a stack of paperwork (I've never had anyone wait THAT long!), and detailed notes about their little girl's symptoms.

What struck me when I first entered the room was what a handsome family they made. There was, however, a bit of tension in the air...things were just a bit rigid. As I engaged the little girl in play and got her to laugh, the ice was broken and the mood was more relaxed. As I started to gather the history, the parents answered each question with a sophisticated precision...almost as if this were a test and they wanted their responses to be 100% accurate--commensurate with their many years of higher education.

We then came to the unavoidable part of the visit whereby I ask, "Well, what seems to be wrong with your daughter today?". An instantaneous surge of tension filled the room. There was a painfully long and silent pause as mom and dad looked at each other with searching eyes. I was taken by surprise because up until that point, both were so eager to answer with such detail. You could feel that no one wanted any part of this question.

Finally, dad broke the silence. He cleared his throat, and straightened his tie (a la Rodney Dangerfield) and, in a very professional voice, exclaimed, "...her monkey hurts!"

Not wishing to reveal my surprise, I tried to just "move on", and not miss a beat. I sure didn't want to re-visit the long uncomfortable pause. "I see. Her monkey hurts", I said with genuine concern, although my mind was racing to figure out just what her "monkey" was.

Four years of medical school, three years of pediatric residency with one year as chief resident, 13 years of private practice and I had never been confronted with a "monkey" before. Since our little patient was wearing only underpants, I could see that most everything else was working just fine. I had a pretty good idea what the problem was, or at least I had a 50-50 chance of being correct.

Clearly the parents could not bring themselves to say the correct anatomical term to describe what was wrong with their daughter. My mind was racing to try to make this as comfortable for all parties concerned as possible.

Just then the little girl, this little lifesaver, came to the rescue when she calmly looked up, and in an innocent little voice said, "Yes doctor, it hurts when I go pee !" To which I replied, "Well, I am sure it does if your monkey hurts...let's check your urine to see if there is an infection". Whew!

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