petite anglaise

October 8, 2008


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:17 am

I take out Tadpole’s carnet de santé, the notebook which was presented to me at the hospital when she was born, in which doctors record the reason for every visit and the fill in the vaccinations she’s received. The entries within are sparse, to say the least. This is partly because Tadpole has enjoyed remarkably good health since she was a baby, and partly because I don’t feel the need to have every sniffle or short-lived tummy bug checked out, given that, in my experience, doctors here have an alarming tendency to over-prescribe. Especially antibiotics.

‘Any serious illnesses or operations to report?’ the school doctor asks, flicking through the pages and tutting when she sees that the double page set aside for a reporting the results of a general check up, aged four, remains blank. At a guess, I’d say the doctor is in her fifties. She’ll only ever see us for this one compulsory visit and apparently thinks this eliminates the need for niceties. Her manner is brusque, her voice clipped as short as her greying hair.

‘Um, she had a fall and split open her lip about eighteen months ago,’ I reply. ‘We were in England at the time, so there’s no record in the book. It was glued together at casualty… It seems to have healed really well.’

‘They used glue?!’ The doctor raises her eyebrows ceilingwards. I toy with the idea of ingratiating myself to her by making a snide comment about the NHS, pandering to her obvious feelings of superiority over English doctors. ‘It was surgical glue,’ I murmur instead, just in case the doctor thinks the incompetent English might have used pritt stick. But the doctor is already busy running her biro down the list of vaccinations at the back of the book, and gives no sign that she’s even heard me.  ‘I have a prescription for her second MMR jab,’ I interject, seeing her frowning at the blank space next to the family doctor’s pencilled-in reminder that a rappel would be due in 2007/8. I can hear defensiveness creeping into my voice. I’m starting to feel like I’m on trial; my ability to bring up a healthy, happy child called into question.

During the hearing test, my heart sinks into my shiny ballerina pumps. Tadpole, dwarfed by a huge pair of headphones, repeatedly giggles and repeats ‘je n’entends rien‘ when sounds are piped into her left ear. The doctor inspects further and finds a large blockage. ‘There’s a lump of hard matter obstructing her ear canal and seriously impairing her hearing,’ she tells me, sternly. ‘Has your daughter ever had a serious ear infection?’ I reply that she’s only had one, that I know of, and she was one at the time. The doctor looks doubtful, and asks me whether I often have to repeat things to my daughter in conversation.

‘Well… sometimes,’ I admit. ‘But you know how it is at this age… It’s hard to differentiate between whether she’s not listening or she can’t hear. Half the time she’s caught up in her own little imaginary world and just ignores me…’

‘Well, you’ll have to get that obstruction removed,’ says the doctor, ‘and test her hearing again afterwards. We need to know whether this impairment is caused by the blockage or due to some other defect.’ I nod, mutely.

When it comes to the eye test, I feel more confident. After all, how many mothers have been taking their daughters to see an optician on a regular basis since the age of 12 months? Mindful of the fact that I got my first pair of NHS standard issue glasses at the tender age of four, I’ve had Tadpole’s eyes tested several times. At the end of our last visit, we were told there was no need for any action, and we should return in not one, but two year’s time.

‘Well, my test says she’s 9.5 in the right eye and 7.5 in the left,’ says the doctor, curtly. ‘When did you last visit this optician you mention?’ I leaf through the carnet de santé and realise the optician must have kept her own records in parallel. There’s no record of these visits whatsoever. It’s as though she never even existed.

We leave the school doctor’s office with two referrals. One to see an ear, nose and throat specialist and the other to see an optician. I feel utterly dejected. I walked into the room feeling reasonably confident in my abilities as a mother and walked out, half an hour later, feeling like I was guilty of criminal neglect.

I accompany Tadpole back up to her classroom, pausing just outside the door to give her a fiercely tight hug and whisper something in her left ear.

‘Did you say something, mummy? I didn’t hear you?’ Tadpole looks puzzled. I repeat myself in her right ear and she smiles.


  1. Don’t fret. The doctor’s probably “got issues” about doing this job rather than tending to the well-heeled with interesting and expensive conditions.

    Comment by Autolycus — October 8, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  2. You’ll need to buck up if you want your ego to survive parenting. What others think of you is none of your business. You’re a good mama.

    Comment by laura frantz — October 8, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  3. Poor Petite. The tetard will be FINE, doctor is mean, you are clearly a magnificent maman and what is wrong with Pritt Sticking wounds anyway?! Tsk. Did us no harm.

    Je compatis – I am always in trouble with Belgian doctors for anglo-saxon style neglect. Actually I haven’t been back to scary Paed since he totally traumatised my boys with his wince-makingly painful demonstration of how to retract foreskin! Urgh. My husband wept tears of sympathy when I told him. It’s a great threat when they’re not behaving though – ‘get in the bath or we’re going to get Dr Duroy to look at your zizi again’.

    Comment by Jaywalker — October 8, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

  4. It’s worse when mums freak out at every tiny thing that is normal in a child growing up. At least Tadpole is building a natural immune system! Hope the other little things doc mentioned get sorted :)

    Comment by L.C.T. — October 8, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

  5. It is funny, I had the reverse experience with an NHS doctor. “You French people, your nose itches and you need antibiotics”. While I agree with the French (and Belgian, that’s where I’m from) overprescription of antibiotics, the NHS tried to cure my pneumonia with Nurofen… It was quite a cultural shock :-) But the British are probably being right, tough, about not prescribing too much medicine to children.

    Comment by Bibil — October 8, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  6. Agree with L.C.T. The blockage is probably just a build-up of wax; you could try an ear candle although la têtarde may be too small (almost definitely too small to sit still while the candle works its magic!) so first check with someone who knows what they’re talking about (i.e. not me and not that awful doctor). Good luck! xx

    Comment by Hollinda — October 8, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  7. OMG,hearing issues at that age are VERY common. Both my nephew (now 6) and a friends boy (now 4) had ‘blockages’ which diminished the hearing in one ear to below 40 percent. Both of them had it removed, and are now perfectly fine, and only guilty of pretending not to hear. Since you’ve not noticed any speech issues with Tadpole (rather, I think – on the contrary!) then you needn’t worry.

    Oh and some doctors should be banned from treating kids. I once heard a pediatrician (that I REFUSE to see when we’re ever at the ER) say to a first time mother, struggling to breastfeed your 2 day old baby in the hospital nursery, but valiantly vowing to keep trying, “Are you trying to kill your child?” when he suggested formula, and she looked at him doubtfully…SHOCKING!

    Comment by Ness — October 8, 2008 @ 2:13 pm

  8. Agree with Autolycus. And you should have thought instead the usual “bla bla bla” (English do this very well ;-) )
    However you must recognise that with small children, better have thorough checks than ignore any problem. That’s probably why I see so often children who do not walk properly, or teeth problems…

    Comment by Vonric — October 8, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  9. I so feel for you. My Italian “NHS” paediatrician is so horrible that she makes me cry when I have to take my daughter for check ups. She’s always making out that I’m an imbecile, generally because I’m English and obviously we have no idea how to bring up children.
    I’ve finally found a private doctor who is the exact opposite so from now on I’ll be going there and paying. Anything is better than the other one. Why is it that certain doctors are so aggressive? I’ve never understood it.

    Comment by Hazy — October 8, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  10. Yee gads. Dealing with French doctors, in my experience, is already enough of a challenge as it is, without having them make you question your parenting skills. No matter what you do, as far as they are concerned, it isn’t enough. So don’t permit the abrupt school doctor to get you down.

    Comment by lapagefrancaise — October 8, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  11. Hi there
    Visiting for the first time (from England) and what a post to stumble on!
    What a mean old cow (the doctor, not you obviously).
    I remember going for my daughter’s check up and the late 50s something health visitor (and I think I’m being kind) was all ‘tut tut’ under her breath when she was weighing and measuring her and ‘hmmm’ when checking her hips and I was thinking “my god woman, just tell me what’s wrong”.
    Then she hands me the book back and says “all fine” see you in a couple of years!

    Clearly it’s a test they take when they qualify . . .

    Comment by Tara — October 8, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  12. Sounds just like the Belgian system of over-anxious referral of every little symptom to a specialist. I’ve literally lost count of the number of referrals I’ve been given over the years. Still – best to be sure. Wonderful thing, this parenting lark!!!

    Comment by Serendipity — October 8, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  13. Well.. The ear doctor removed the blockage and she still had a 25db impairment afterwards (although admittedly her ear was full of water, too). So we have the works: ear drops, nose spray, amoxycillin and cough medicine (?!!) to take for a week and clear out all those tubes. Then I suppose we’ll see another doctor in a few weeks’ time and re-test those ears.

    Next stop, optician’s appointment tomorrow. I’m going to have mine tested too. About time I got some new glasses…

    Comment by petite — October 8, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  14. Geez you poor thing! I worked with doctors in the states for years and I find that docs close to retirement are either horribly bitter jackasses who make you feel shameful or ignorant or they prescribe meds like Pez dispensors, they aren’t interested in solving the actual issue just sending you away pacified. That doc you first saw was out of line, nationality should not be an excuse.

    Comment by Angela — October 8, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  15. Thank goodness she is sending you to get a second opinion. Two weeks ago one of my peewees was diagnosed with both a broken collarbone and rib, from a football accident. We went for a second opinion and when we questioned the Orthopedic Surgeon his reply was, “What time is football practice?” There was nothing broken, only bruises. Second opinions are quite important.

    Comment by Emily — October 8, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  16. Treat yourself to a gorgeous new pair of glasses through which to give a frosty British stare to uppity French doctors :-)

    Comment by Provincial Lady — October 8, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

  17. You know, I’d go to a different doctor next time. I mean, visit the specialists and make sure everything is okay but from there avoid this person.

    For years I went to this mean doctor and it really brought me down. When I finally fired her and got someone else I was so much happier. It makes a difference.

    Comment by The Window Seat — October 8, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

  18. Great post as always, i wish they had such good test in my day, they did not spot i needed glasses till i was 14.

    Comment by Brett — October 8, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  19. I just finished reading your book! I loved it! I didn’t love your unhappiness but I love the way you write. Now I’ll have to read all your blog and catch up.
    I took my daughter to the optician and she was reading all the letters on the wall wrong, I was horrified. Then the optician drew her head back from the little glass thingy she was looking through, wiped it clean and made her re read the letters, all of them correct. I can understand how scary it can be to think your child might have an impairment no matter how small.


    Comment by lucy — October 8, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

  20. The school doctor probably thought she was making her job well. Think of really neglected children who don’t get examined on a regular basis…. Ear and eyes problems not detected and cured, explain most of school failure. Before going to see a “pedopsy”, or an “orthophoniste”, sometimese solutions are just medical.

    However, about Tadpole’s problem, you could also probably check allergies.

    Comment by Sophie — October 8, 2008 @ 8:27 pm

  21. Tell her to sod off, narky old cow. From what I’ve read Tadpole is a happy little girl, and thats what matters.
    P.S. I’m new to this, just read you’re book and was enthralled so here I am!

    Comment by Quirky-J — October 8, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  22. Cough medicine! The US Paediatric Association is currently suggesting over the counter and prescription cough medicine be banned for anyone age 4 and under. It doesn’t work and it can be dangerously sedative. I’m actually in Canada and it is rarely suggested. We do use a sort of soothing herbal preparation with liqourice and cherry, but not the pharmaceutical version.

    Comment by sonya — October 8, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

  23. I never had my children’s eyes tested prior to their standard checks….. So no need for guilt!

    I’m sure that the blockage is just wax too. Silly woman. She should have told you. She must know!

    Comment by Sally Lomax — October 8, 2008 @ 9:40 pm

  24. My sister has these issues too because her daughter was born 5 weeks early. She needs to see all sorts of doctors on a regular basis, because my niece’s hearing and speaking aren’t up to scratch apparently. But what matters most I think is that children have loving parents. And you seem to do very well in that category.

    Comment by Marjolein — October 8, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

  25. Well if you lived here in Buenos Aires, they would probably try to refer you to a psychiatrist, for being a neglectful mummy ;) My daughter´s pediatrician tried to send me to one, because I did not appear upset enough when she was ill. And then he tried to send me again, when I was upset that she was ill another time.

    Comment by miss tango — October 8, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  26. No matter what country you come from doctors have a universally arrogant manner. Especially specialists!

    Don’t worry, Tadpole’s still breathing & operating as she should, her mum is the best judge, not a doctor who’ll see the child once or twice in their lifetime.

    I personally believe that all doctors should be used as a last resort and you should always be accompanied by another person who can speak on your behalf when you become speachless at their rudeness.

    Comment by QldDeb — October 9, 2008 @ 1:22 am

  27. Glad to read the blockage is gone. I guess if all the children pass with glowing health the doctor does herself out of a job – we wouldn’t want that now, would we?

    Comment by another outspoken female — October 9, 2008 @ 2:55 am

  28. My paediatrician has, in our four-month relationship, repeatedly freaked me out. Your baby is underweight (no she isn’t)- give her a bottle of formula. She’s still underweight (no, I didn’t give her the damn formula)- start solids now at four months. How was she after her vaccinations? She did nothing but sleep for 3 days and refused to eat (because she’s underweight, probably), and it took her 5 days to get over it properly? I’ve never heard that in 20 years practice. (You must be making it up to distract me from the fact that your baby is underweight.)

    I’m all for following medical advice, but… I am not giving my baby either formula or solids (until she’s 6 months) just because my little girl doesn’t fit the line down the middle of her charts! GRRRRR!!!

    I’m so glad I’m moving in 6 months. Then I’ll change paediatricians.

    Comment by little_bounce — October 9, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  29. I agree with @19.
    The school doctor is doing her job, i.e. making sure that no medical problems go unnoticed in the children. Of course, she could be more friendly and less uptight, but the fact is that she’s probably seen many cases of real neglect over the years. Unfortunately, there are many careless parents around and sometimes kids slip the net and then end up doing really badly at school because nobody realised they had poor sight/ hearing or any other chronic illness (obviously, that is not the case with Tadpole). I’m sure her hearing will be fine in no time and if she needs glasses, then it’s probably genetic and not anyone’s fault.
    Although sometimes the control may seem excessive, it really is a privilege to be entitled to this kind of thorough medical care (free of charge?). After all, it’s not so hard to bring your child for a check-up once a year, just in case…

    I really understand the feeling of utter dejection, though. When I brought my daughter for her 1-week check-up, she had inexplicably lost a little bit too much weight too fast (despite being glued to my breast for what seemed like 24 hours a day) and the paediatrician that weighed her (whom I never saw again) scared the living hell out of me by ordering an immediate ultrasound on her kidneys to make sure no lasting damage had been done. Of course, she was fine and the following week she starting gaining rapidly (without the formula that he urged me to feed her).
    I have never in my life felt so inadequate and guiltridden as in that half-hour waiting for the results of the ultrasound, horrified that I might have inadvertedly harmed my perfect daughter in some way.
    Maybe it’s better for the doctors to be over-zealous just in case something goes unnoticed…

    Having said that, I’m sure Tadpole’s hearing will be fine in no time and even if she needs glasses, then it’s probably genetic and not anyone’s fault.

    Comment by happyforyou — October 9, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  30. Don’t even think you are being a less than good mum. The symptoms you mention aren’t your fault! Don’t forget that is why you go to the Doctor in the first place, to get these sort of things sorted.

    btw “…doctors here have an alarming tendency to over-prescribe. Especially antibiotics” is the complete opposite to the UK now. I had to almost beg my Doctor for an antibiotic last year and it was only due to a trip to India that she gave them to me!

    My two little ones, though they have had plenty of trips to the Doctors have also had very little antibiotic prescribed.

    Comment by Nick — October 9, 2008 @ 9:52 am

  31. what did you whisper to tadpole?

    Comment by kara — October 9, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  32. It’s funny because here in the states, they are saying we overmedicate our children and that home remedies are often more effective and safer. I only ever took my kids to the doctor if they were sick. No once a year checkups. Did that make me a bad mom? Nah, my girls are 25,22 and 19 and healthy, happy adults.

    Comment by donna lee — October 9, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  33. Dear Petite,

    It is funny how I have been reading your blog for many years now, often puzzling at the mirror effect of our lives yet never leaving a comment.

    So this is my first comment, mostly to tell you I know exactly how you felt, and not to let it get to you. I have been through the same sort of aggravation only a few months ago when we found out that my 5 year old had glue ear, probably caused by recurring ear infections left untreated. A dry comment from a medic suddendly left me with crippling guilt, at the thought that my little boy’s hearing may be permanenetly impaired as a direct reuslt of my neglect. In truth, I just never knew he had ear infections and I am not the type who runs to the doctors for mere sniffles.

    Anyway, the glue ear is hopefully going to be sorted sometime soon, and I am sure that Tadpole will be right as rain.

    As for the rest, well, we are the same age, our children are the same age, I am French and live in England, have been grappling with the joys and hardships of single motherhood, trying to have a new relationship, bringing up a multi-lingual and multi-cultural child, trying to meet someone on the internet. Before eventually meeting my very own boy recently.

    I guess statistically, this isn’t rare coicidence-type material, we are not talking about lottery winning odds or anything, nevertheless, it often made me smile to read about your life, seeing mine in parrallel.

    So many thanks for it all :o)
    Manu x

    Comment by Manu — October 9, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

  34. I started wearing glasses when I was 12, but probably should have started years before. My best friend and I went to a very small private academy-a glorified home school-and our eyesight deteriorated at the same time. With no school medicals neither of our parents had any idea and we both thought the world was a blurry place. It wasn’t until I fell hard on my head playing footie in a parking lot and saw stars with a subsequent trip to the ER that my less than sharp vision was discovered. In the end Tadpole will be better off, even if you were wracked with guilt, and that’s what matters.


    Comment by ilestcinqheures — October 9, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  35. When I went in for my last service, the quack said that I was ready for the knackers yard!

    Other than that, I was fine… ;-)

    The human body is a wonderous vehicle, it will even keep running with four flat tyres and a mis-firing engine. A quick wash’n brush-up and she’ll be running as good as new.

    Comment by Steve... — October 9, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

  36. Say what you want about the american health system, I’ve found the docs, nurses and support staff generally have a good bedside manner.

    If they don’t we can go elsewhere!

    Comment by John from Florida — October 9, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  37. Don’t sweat the eye doctor. My daughter got glasses at 3 (she was crossing her eyes just to focus) and accepted them as part of herself from day 1. She’s now 14 and gets offended when people ask her if she wants contact lenses.

    Comment by Anne — October 9, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  38. On the subject of books :
    Bad Science by Ben Goldacre is a MUST read for Hollinda @6.

    Comment by j — October 9, 2008 @ 6:26 pm

  39. hello!!
    sorry but i don’t speak english very well!!
    pourquoi c’est en anglais si tu es en france? C’est dommage car je suis secrétaire et j’aurai aimé te lire. Bon, là je vais essayer mais je vais peut etre pas tout comprendre!!

    Comment by audrey — October 9, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

  40. I must have been very lucky. Very few doctors in my life (which is probably significantly longer than the lives of the majority of people writing here) have been other than professional, capable, pleasant, and willing to answer any questions and discuss alternative treatments.

    I did notice, though, when my parents were alive and I was talking with their doctors, that some U.K. NHS doctors seemed somewhat reluctant to discuss treatment plans, whereas here here in the U.S.A. (in my experience), they prefer informed patients. But I suspect the situation has changed or is changing in England. My parents’ generation tended to believe you accepted without question anything the doctor said, so doctors just weren’t used to having patients ask questions.

    Comment by Passante — October 10, 2008 @ 12:07 am

  41. nice to read you again….missed you were….

    Comment by pablo — October 10, 2008 @ 12:27 am

  42. Oh, how I feel I’ve failed the good French mommy test when I take my son to see the pediatrician. The doc is nice enough, but my son hates every visit a little more than the last and stages quite a manifestation contestataire.

    Just how I’m supposed to ask questions in French or, more importantly, understand the responses with a baby screaming at the top of his lungs I’ve yet to figure out.

    Comment by parisienne mais presque — October 10, 2008 @ 1:54 am

  43. I wonder if they teach doctors to lord it over patients at medical school in France. Yes, they do over-medicate and over-prescribed and no, that doesn’t a good doctor make. I grew up there, was always poorly, was fed enough antibiotics to render my immune system defenseless and guess what… it turns out that pretty everything could have been sorted/avoided by simply cutting out wheat and dairy from my diet. So much for French medicine! It is love that makes a good mum, not how many trips she takes to the surgery or the chemist’s… oh how I wish my own mother had been more like you! :-)

    Comment by Ariel — October 10, 2008 @ 4:45 am

  44. That hearing test is hilarious. She was obviously saying she couldn’t hear in response to the sounds that she could hear. (If only in her good ear!)

    You would be amazed by what audiologists manage to fish out of people’s ears. One friend of mine miraculously cured an elderly man’s chronic deafness by removing a small beetle that had crawled in there five years earlier and died.

    Comment by Damian — October 10, 2008 @ 9:43 am

  45. @ No 38: You recommend Bad Science by Ben Goldacre… others have reported he is in the pay of drug companies.

    Comment by Tim — October 10, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  46. There are countless people who will make us feel inadequate as parents – some are in the medical profession and some are our relatives!
    I had Small Childs MMR booster reminder through 4 weeks ago and still need to book it in. Am dreading the conversation beforehand as we didn’t need to have such a detailed discussion at 18 months!
    She has also worn glasses since the age of 18 months to help correct a squint and now has to wear a “pirate patch” over the good eye for an hour a day. I asked why the squint may have developed – possibly chicken pox at 11 months or possibly the fact that she was three weeks early – are either of these my fault? I think not. So why do I still feel responsible? Because I’m a mum!

    Comment by Thatgirl — October 10, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  47. I hate visiting the doctor as well – either I get told in graphic detail why everything I’ve been doing is wrong and how this has contributed to various health conditions – i.e. sports injuries OR

    I get told everything is fine and not to worry whatsoever about the pain in my knee. Back to the office – disgruntled as hell – a week later due to tendonitis!

    Comment by Drammy — October 10, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

  48. Only a fool would think you a bad mother.

    Comment by mademoisellenon — October 11, 2008 @ 2:31 am

  49. I was out with my daughter in law and baby the other day here in Paris. The baby didn’t have a hat on and it was sunny. We got stopped by four women telling us that the baby needed a hat. I thought we were going to get turned in to the authorities for a while there.

    Comment by Linda — October 11, 2008 @ 7:04 am

  50. You are not a bad Mom. Sounds like those mandatory screening doctors in France go to the same school of how to be vile to parents as the ones here in the USA.

    I hope that all is well with Tadpole’s ears, nose and throat, as well as all other various parts. And, if not, I am sure you will ably manage whatever needs to be done.

    Comment by Lana Wood — October 11, 2008 @ 8:32 am

  51. I think it’s the first time I leave a comment here. Your blog is fantastic, and I enjoy very much your writing. You’re really talented!

    I don’t have any children, but I experienced something like that a few years ago when I was a freshwoman in my school (in Paris). We had a compulsory medical visit, and I remember the doctor was an awful middle-aged woman who wanted to send me to see a nutritionist only because I’ve always been a little under-weighted… No matter what my family looked like, no matter what was my diet, I was not in the standard, I had to be cured. She treated me like a fifteen-year old (I was 21) and tried to make me feel guilty. I don’t even mention the questions she asked me about my sexual education and personal life. On the contrary, my usual doctor is charming.

    I’m sure Tadpole is fine, and that you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    Keep going, and thank you so much for the blog!

    Comment by So — October 11, 2008 @ 11:53 pm

  52. Glad her ears are clearing up. I had so many ear problems as a child, that I was always more than happy to avoid the doctor. If Tadpole had been in pain, you would have known. Silly school doctors!

    Comment by unbalanced reaction — October 12, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

  53. As my friends and I used to say… “There goes mother-of-the-year, once again.”

    Love the preoccupation of the French with medical maladies, etc. No better place to get sympathy and access to stronger meds than a French pharmacy. In the U.S. these days we have limited access even to antihistamines because of the blight of meth addiction and all the amateur pharmacologists.

    And, the efficiency of the carnet de sante is remarkable. We were provided with a small chart for immunizations for our oldest child, but generally all records are only maintained by the physicians office and if you change physicians, it is your responsibility to get the records forwarded.

    Missing your more frequent blogs. Understand that your writing time is focused on $$ generating endeavours, but you hooked us on your day-to-day thoughts and experiences, and we have become voyeurs…

    Comment by Marielle — October 12, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

  54. Tim: Ben Goldacre has a column every Saturday in the Guardian, in which he frequently criticises drug companies. I’ve never read him recommending one, or any product, so I don’t see what evidence there is of his being in the pay of them. He’s a doctor, with a great deal of commonsense and a healthy suspicion of statistics.
    Antibiotics: they do not work on viruses; they are not being prescribed as much as previously in the UK because over-use creates resistant bacteria, making illnesses harder to treat.
    Doctors: my NHS GP is friendly, patient and skilled, and always involves me in any decisions about treatment. My daughter is a doctor, and she’s lovely! She recently did a placement in a Paris hospital, and was struck by how very differently many things are done in France, including the way doctors are trained.
    Parenthood: one way to stop worrying too much about your first child is to have another……

    Comment by Janet — October 12, 2008 @ 5:44 pm

  55. eegads ! never stick anything bigger than your elbow in your ear… and trust me on that….

    Comment by magillicuddy — October 13, 2008 @ 1:01 pm

  56. Hi

    I know this is nothing to do with the post but I’ve just finished reading Petite Anglaise and can I say I thoroughly enjoyed it. You actually remind me of me slightly, I’m 16 at the moment and have an absoloute love for all things Hispanic. I hope to learn Spanish fluently and you have made me really want to follow my dream of learning it, sometimes it can be hard but I’ve just always wanted to speak another langauge – it’s impressive, right? Maybe I’ll find a Spanish Mr Frog of my own? Who knows…

    Stacy x

    Comment by Stacy — October 13, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  57. Odd remark about Ben Goldacre- a very severe critic of Drug Sellers and frivolous prescribing.
    Would like to see the evudence on which it is based.

    Comment by Skip D.Sc — October 13, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  58. Yer what, Pet?

    Glue ear. That must have been it.

    Comment by Roads — October 13, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

  59. I feel for you, but do have to mention there is one thing worse than Dr’s, the dreaded DENTIST, who seem to only come in two varitys; wonderful with the patiance of a saint or a the sadistic and patronising spawn of the devil himself!

    Comment by Optimistic Cynic — October 13, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

  60. don’t let her faze you – you’re a fab mummy – and i’m an expert (allegedly) xx

    Comment by rivergirlie — October 13, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

  61. About 3 years ago, I had some glue applied to my forehead in Calais’hospital. This doctor should keep up with new treatments…

    And I must say it has healed fantastically, no scar!!


    Comment by Sophielondon — October 14, 2008 @ 2:27 am

  62. I had ear infections all that time when I was a kid. I think most kids grow out of the ear problems eventually. I’m wishing all of your family well. I just started reading your book this weekend. I’m really enjoying it.

    Comment by Anali — October 14, 2008 @ 5:31 am

  63. You have described exactly the reason why my French wife prefers to stay in England rather than settle in France. She would have handled this doctor in a very direct manner as I would, but many English people still avoid confrontation. An old French friend when given trouble by the local council in France regarding disposal of rubbish asked the council official if he would like the rubbish dumped on the left or the right of the Mairie. J’aime bien ca!

    Comment by franglais tyke — October 14, 2008 @ 7:31 am

  64. How obnoxious. I really can’t stand the fact that France has a reputation for being snobby and yet they do nothing to hinder it. I feel sorry that Tadpole has to be treated by such a pompous doctor. I also believe that the English health system has always been much more credible than that of the French.

    Comment by XOXO The Bitches — October 15, 2008 @ 2:31 am

  65. Thanks Janet for replying to Tim, saved me the trouble ;-)
    I suspect Skip D.Sc was also referring to Tim, but just in case mea culpa, I referenced Goldacre as his book has a thing about ear candles – complete wibble to misquote Dr Crippen. Sticking anything in any orifice has a tendancy towards being a bad idea!

    Comment by j — October 15, 2008 @ 7:36 pm

  66. Reminds me of the time we all had to get chest xrays to live in France. The medecin said my son had a heart murmur. I was in a panic, until most of my friends explained they had been told the same thing about one of their kids by the French doctor.

    Comment by thedogatemyhomework — October 15, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

  67. Here in Canada, doctors whip out their prescription pads at the speed of light, and over-prescribe antibiotics, despite the alarm over the consequences; ie super-bugs, C-difficile et al. Good for you for staying clear of the system, and the school doctor sounds like a condescending tyrant. My daughter had a blockage, it went away as she got bigger, and her hearing is fine. Oh, also, here in Canada, getting “tubes” is the other thing doctors rush to do for toddlers with ear problems, and they usually they fall out. Waste of time and money.

    Comment by gwappa — October 16, 2008 @ 1:43 am

  68. They put me in detox!

    Comment by Trevor — October 16, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  69. So how did the trip to the opticians go?

    Comment by A — October 16, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  70. This sickens me. I make a comment here and as soon as it’s up it’s taken down. If i’m barred here just say it. go on!

    Comment by Trevor — October 16, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

  71. Sorry, it’s up again. Botheration on me.

    Comment by Trevor — October 16, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

  72. I completely sympathise with your feelings, but get one thing straight. You know you are a perfectly good Mum. What is worrying (here in England) is how much the state is interferring in parenting. The have been gradually removing parental rights and increasing the amount of busy-bodies that pry and critisize into every aspect of our lives. They have raised the responsibilities of schools, giving them freedom to teach our children things that we should be responsible for and may not agree with either.

    Yes this is a bit negative but parents should resist this disgraceful attitude such as the one you experienced. It is none of their business. You are not oblidged to take your daughter to see a doctor for every tiny thing. It is up to you to do as you think best!!

    Comment by scribble — October 16, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  73. The Boy had repeated ear infections till we finally got the tubes done at 18 months. I never realized that his hearing was so affected – so how would you know from one blockage from one infection (once)?

    Oh, and I SO know what you mean about not being able to tell the difference between hearing problem and listening problem. At this age, it’s well nigh impossible, non?

    Comment by No Mother Earth — October 16, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  74. P.S. @63, the reason why we are less confrontational is because nowadays, you can very easily be accused of ‘abusing’ staff or ‘raising your voice’ and so on. We’ve been thoroughly put in our place by the PC brigade, it’s shameful!!

    Comment by scribble — October 16, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  75. I have lost my son’s Carnet de Sante – how crap does that make me? I have a feeling it was in the glove compartment of my old car when it went off to the breakers yard the other month. I can’t wait to see the doctor’s face when we go for the 5-6 yrs old check up next month. TTx

    Comment by Tarte Tartan — October 17, 2008 @ 8:29 am

  76. Mum-guilt…it’s the worst isn’t it?

    I once took my ds1 to the doctor when he was about 8 months old because he kept shaking his head. I thought he had an ear infection. The doctor looked at me like I was mad.

    I told dh what had happened. Dh looked at me like I was mad. He shook his head at ds1, who proceeded to gaily shake his head back at him.

    Turned out it was his idea of fun, nothing to do with his ears. Dh still doesn’t let me forget that one…

    Comment by miss london — October 17, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  77. Could have been worse, petite! You could have lost or mislaid the carnet de santé, I imagine it happens all the time! :)

    Comment by happyforyou — October 17, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  78. Awww Petite, don’t worry at all!
    Number 1. It’s good for Tadpole’s immune system if she’s not scrubbed up and germ free all the time. Bring on the muddy hands, bunged knees and weird ear obstructions.
    Number 2. Even now, I find it hard to find a decent, non judgmental doctor. I recall being patronised at 16 for being a virgin! No joke, she thought I was in some religious sect. I was mortified that I had to justify to her why I wasn’t dropping my underwear at the mere sight of men.
    A good doctor is one who doesn’t freak out more than the mother. After all, you’d know the best if something wasn’t quite right!

    And that’s my two cents ;)
    Hope you’re well!

    Comment by zosia — October 17, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  79. @72 – Scribbles, as a teacher in London, I can categorically say that a vast amount of parents of school age children need help in raising their children.
    I teach yr 2, and every day see children arriving at school in clothes still covered in yesterdays or the day before’s grime. Just today, I had to ask a little girl to ask her mother to wash her hair as it was filthy. The little girl replied, ‘but I have my bath on Sundays’. When I queried her, she told me that yes, she only bathes once a week. This is the same little girl who I have had to report to child protection as she was being beaten by her father, and the mother kept letting him back.
    So while you may see teachers, doctors, whoever – as ‘interfering’, we are simply doing for children what many parents aren’t, and what the poor little ones can’t do for themselves.

    Comment by Lauren — October 17, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

  80. Ten days from my first draft deadline (Oct 29th) and I’m keeping my head down and workworkworking …

    Just to let you know that I’m having a huge problem with comment spam right now and I hope no genuine comments have been deleted along with the 240 I just went through. Apologies if they have.

    Comment by petite — October 20, 2008 @ 8:52 am

  81. @ 79 I came come from a generation where the traditional Sunday bath ‘only once a week’ was perfectly normal. Am I the only one to find that NOT shocking. Most people don’t stink to the point where they really need to shower/bath everyday.

    In fact my son sometimes goes to school far less than 100% clean and would be happy to go 2 Sundays without a bath if I didn’t threaten to beat around the ears with a wooden spoon/kidnap his Nintendo or worse. Maybe I should call the authorities myself.

    Being beaten by her father well that’s of course another story. . . .

    Comment by Pauline — October 20, 2008 @ 10:24 am

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