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When Parents Fail Their Children

I Failed My Child, but More Importantly I Disappointed Myself

I'm a failure. When my son needed me the most, I failed him — big time. He's gotten over it, but here we are three weeks later and I'm still reeling from the entire experience.

It started as a routine visit to the dermatologist. My 6-year-old has a plantar's wart on his foot and after a month of putting it off, we went to have it removed. Having had the nasty buggers carved out of my toe as a child, I was excited when our pediatrician said a simple freezing of the wart over the course of several office visits should do the job. But after looking at it, the dermatologist thought a surface slice could do the job faster, virtually pain-free, and leave us free from endless follow-up visits. She just needed to know if my son was good with shots.

Luckily, this child is my easy one in that department (he didn't even flinch at his flu shot the week before) so we agreed to the quick and easy course of treatment. After icing the wart for 5 minutes, the doctor returned with a shot to numb the area. My child sat in my arms as the doctor inserted the needle and he let out a blood curdling scream that still rings through my ears. I'd never heard a sound like that before (and he has food allergies, so he gets poked and prodded a lot) and pray I never will again. He jumped even further into my arms and if he could have climbed back into my womb he would have.

"Mrs. Gruber, you're looking a little . . . "

The next thing I knew, a nurse was patting my head with cool damp towels, the doctor was fanning me, and my son — who was still curled up in my arms — didn't know whether to scream, cry, or stare at me. I had passed out completely. When my child needed me to be strong and reassure him, my body shut off — albeit just for a few seconds. Between the scream that I can still hear, the trickle of blood, and the memories of my own experience, I lost it. I was mortified and disappointed in myself. This is not what a parent is supposed to do. A parent — no, a mother — is supposed to be there for her child. She's supposed to reassure him and be his rock. She's supposed to protect him. She's not supposed to turn into the patient herself.

Needless to say, we did not go on with the procedure. By the time I could lift my head up, feeling had returned to my son's foot. The window had passed and there was no way we were going back to reopen it. He couldn't take it and I obviously couldn't either. Next week we are go for our second freezing appointment. There are probably 3-4 more on the calendar after that. And while my calendar isn't too happy to have to move meetings and year-end events around the appointments, I can tell you this. I now know my limitations as a mother, and I'd rather take the long road than ever go through that experience again — maybe I'll even keep it together this time around.

Image Source: Corbis Images
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