This week, my son's allergies and asthma knocked us back a few days. I was worried that he had a stomach issue as well so I insisted that the doctor's office see him. It's 4:30pm, the end of a long, vomiting day. My son is tired wanting to be carried everywhere. His name is called in the lobby and I stand still carrying him. He is about to throw up.
Like every visit before this one, the first thing they do is weigh him to help dose his medicine just right. My son refuses to let go of me and holds my hand on the scale. We both look exhausted and carry a slight vomit smell on us.
The nurse asks, "Are you the mom"?
I get it. I am white, he is black, we don't match. I pause, bite my tongue and say yes.
She places us in our room. We wait. We are outside the area where other kids are being weighed. No one else is asked that question. Instead, the nurse immediately calls every woman "Mom" and every man "Dad".
I am sitting on the examination table beside my son trying not to think about the question, but I can't. My son is analyzing the poster on the wall. I can't stop thinking. One thought, "Why didn't I ask are you the nurse?" I stew a bit in my juices then my son throws up all over the examination room floor. My focus changes to cleaning it up as quickly as possible.
I understand the need for this question. Medical professionals can't assume we belong together even though his arms and legs are wrapped around me, he is calling me Mommy and not letting me out of his sight. But why do they assume with everyone else? Why not ask every parent if they are the parent?
I need to get over this. This is just one question in a lifetime of questions like this. I need thicker skin and a sense of humor. I need a snappy comeback. I need to be a role model for my son. But sometimes, I just get mad. And tired. My son and I never think about being different in our world. Everyone who knows us knows we are bound together. Yet, every time we enter the medical arena, I get this feeling that we are outsiders. Why can't this question change?