Recently, Matthew (9) and Christopher (11) had their annual physicals. It has been a while since we have had one for any of the boys so I had forgotten the “oral exam” part of the physicals. I knew to have them cleaned, nails trimmed, and dressed in non-embarrassing attire. However, I did forget to check if Matthew was wearing underwear. We adjusted by stripping down to our red shorts since “they are kind of like boxers anyway.” However, Dr. may have jotted down, “9 year old is unaware of basic cultural norms and minimal hygiene practices.” (Strike One for Mom!)
We passed the height and weight checks easily enough, but then came the request by the nurse for both boys to “leave a urine sample in the bathroom.” Both boys high-fived each other, chest bumped, and in unison shouted, “Yes!” Typical boy behavior so no mommy strike there.
Thinking I was back on a “See, I know how to care for my children” roll as they touched their clean toes, opened their minty smelling mouths, and held still as their clean ears were examined, I relaxed a little and took pride in their obedience.
Then came the oral exam. At first I thought it was just casual conversation, then I realized there was more at stake! My value/score as a mother!
Dr. : So Matthew, what do you do in your spare time?
Matthew enthusiastically: Basketball!
Dr: Anything else?
Matthew: No, just basketball
Dr.: What about you Christopher?
Christopher: LONG PAUSE….Uh, well, err…
Mom (Interrupting the agonizing awkwardness): Ah, he likes to come home and play all kinds of things just nothing in particular.
FINAL SCORE: One kid who has an obsession and another who has no interests at all.
Dr. : Do you boys wear helmets when you ride your bikes?
Mom in thought: (they know the right answer…they have helmets…I remind about helmets…they should get this one)
Christopher: I wear a helmet…when I ride more than half a mile from my house!
FINAL SCORE: Partial credit…non-diligent mother who has not impressed upon children that you must wear a helmet ALL the time.
Dr: Do you boys have a bedtime routine?
Matthew: What do you mean?
FINAL SCORE: Strike two! No obvious bedtime routine!
Dr: Well, what is your bedtime?
Mom in thought: (Yes, that is their bedtime…see we have a routine)
Christopher: Yeah, but we don’t fall asleep until sometimes 10:00!
Dr: Well what time do you wake up?
Dr.: Well, that’s still close to nine hours so that’s OK.
FINAL SCORE: Full credit for nine hours of sleep (a near miss)!
Dr. Do you boys wear sun screen?
Mom in thought: (we’re goners on this one)
Matthew: Only when we’re at the pool.
Christopher: Well, actually we only wear it during the first three weeks of summer until we get a tan and then we don’t need to wear it. And my brother Michael says that his skin is SPF 30 so he never wears it and…
FINAL SCORE: Dr. reminds Mom of the need for sun screen for all children at all times and not just at the pool… Strike Three!
After the “oral exams” conclude and we were safely tucked into the car WEARING OUR SEAT BELTS, I checked to be sure the boys knew who Jesus was and that we live our lives to bring God glory and that the Bible is the actual word of God and is sufficient for navigating our limited time on Earth. They agreed.
Final verdict: Our identity as women is not in who our children reflect to others who we are. My children can make poor choices despite more than enough reminders against it.
I may not feed them, clothe them, or instruct them perfectly in all areas of life. But I love them and I am in relationship with the Creator of the universe–and so are they. That’s more important than passing any test any day.