Proud of this Kid. Be Proud of All Our Kids.
May 12, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
I am so proud of this kid. A blurred image of him from our time in DC. I was a research fellow back them at the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program. I was working in an endocrine lab, but really just looking at surveys and spreadsheets all day. It was a magical year where I was getting a very small stipend that hardly paid for his preschool. We were hemorrhaging money that year, as Mr. Plastic Picker was finishing Musculoskeletal Radiology fellowship up in Boston, and was commuting to DC weekends to see us. We had a small apartment behind NIH, that was the shabbiness place that we had ever lived in. You could hear the neighbors running the bath. We think they were running a laundry service out of their apartment. It was furnished with IKEA furniture that didn’t withstand our young family. The apartment was semi-subsidized by NIH – but not really. It wasn’t that affordable either especially on my research stipend, but I could walk right into work as the back entrance of NIH abutted the grounds.
I have so many poignant memories of that year. I was not doing any clinical work, and the research work was easy. We spent the entire year exploring DC. Every weekend was a new Smithsonian museum. When Mr. Plastic Picker arrived on the train from Boston, our entire family was so happy to see him. It was a healing year. It’s tough having children in training. I don’t recommend it necessarily. But that is what we did, and that year we devoted to educating our son and being there for him. He was enrolled in a preschool finally, where his language caught up. He had little friends in particular a little boy named Eli that he would chatter on about. He got to dress up in a Halloween costume and had a preschool costume parade. You could see him blossoming that year.
I was interviewed yesterday by Contemporary Pediatrics about burnout. I made contact with their new editor in a round-about way. After speaking at the national American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology conference, I was invited by the editor-at-large to contribute a piece on climate change and then also to participate in another series on burn-out. As per usual, I mentioned my climate work as an antidote to burnout.
Now that I think about it. So much of phyisican burnout is because we don’t have time for our own children. When we don’t do well, our children don’t do well. I’m organizing this weekend a physician wellness event for our HMO radiology department and the response from the radiologist-mothers has been heart-warming. Combining outside time with real meaningful, educational and planetary restorative activities for the family – has been the secret sauce to my activism. It’s just common sense to me. I’m a working mother as well, and for me combining important tasks in a meaningful two hours is so impactful.
Just meandering thoughts of a working mother, and proud of the little boy above who is now 1 month shy of seventeen. We made our career decisions because of him. We had to make sure he turned out okay. And this kid who we had to worry about language delay and speech therapy, yesterday finished his fourth AP test for the year. AP Chemistry, AP English Language, AP Spanish and AP US History. Some subjects were stronger than other. Finished his SATS already and has a really strong score already. He still has a lot of work to do the rest of his junior year, but his father and I are so proud of him. He did it. He’s done it his own way. Our timing was not perfect when we decided to start a family. We were anxious to get him into the world.
And now we’re anxious to slow time down. Slow it all the way down. I’m so proud of our kid. I’m proud of all our children, including all my patients as they proceed on their journey through life. That’s what I learned from Mr. Plastic Picker’s parents. You have to fundamentally know that the world and future belong to your children, and we are just there to cheer them on and support them.
So to reward him for finishing a big milestone, our son at 16 years 11/12 months got his first real iPhone! There is a funny back story to the entire thing, as he’s an entirely normal kid and yes plays videogames. But yes – he has an iPhone now.