"I go to the doctor when I'm sick" Right?

Malachi has increasingly been saying this: "I go to the doctor when I'm sick."

We'll read a book about going to the doctor and he'll say proudly: "I go to the doctor when I'm sick."

I will tell him it's time to leave for Dr. So-and-so's appointment and he will start crying and wail: "because I'm sick!"

This is one of those things your 3-year-old does to hold up a mirror to you. I don't think he fully understands what he's saying. I took him to an appointment one time when he was actually sick and must have done a better job explaining the reason for the appointment than other appointments, so now he thinks that all doctors are for when he is sick.

For most kids, this would be true. But Malachi? Malachi's got a lot of doctors in his life. And I don't want him to think they are treating him for an illness.

Even though… they are, aren't they? I mean, he's not healthy. Right?

Except that there is a distinction in my mind that didn't used to be there, between people who are ill and people whose brains function differently.

Now that Malachi is getting old enough to talk about his disability, I wonder a lot about how best to approach it. It's an on-camera balancing act that I've never had to practice before.

I don't want to put a label on him; but I want to give him words for his situation.

I don't want to create a demon in his mind; but I want to affirm that it is hard and unfair sometimes.

I don't want to point out how he is different; but I want him to know what's going on.

I don't want to sugar-coat it; but I want him to know that it is OK.

Like most of parenting, I've never had to do this before.


  1. You really have to be careful. CP isn't a illness. I have a children's poem, which I need to make into a book at some point that entitled Cerebral Palsy Party. try to be positive about CP.

    1. Exactly, AZ! I'd like to be positive about it, but also comfort him about the challenges it presents. It's a fine line to walk.

    2. Hello Shasta,
      I've been following your blog and I'd love to share some of the things I've learnt through my own experience. I'm an adult with CP. I don't comment because my hands are slow at typing, but we could connect through skype if you want to.
      Warm regards,

  2. My thoughts: Drs help people to be able to do what they want when they want to improve. The person might be sick and want to be get rid of what is in their body making them sick. They might have been hurt and Drs know about how bodies work so they can help them heal and start doing what they want again. They might have some part of their body not working as well as they would like because that is the way they were born and Drs might be able to tell them how they can work around that. Also, sometimes Drs just want to check to make sure everything is going ok. And sometimes they tell you who to go see who can help you because they don't know as much about your question.

    I know each person's situation can be unique and can be complicated with more than one issue, but I always think of CP as an injury. Sometimes it can be healed and sometimes it leaves scars. Sometimes we need to learn how to use a different part (of the brain) since the scars get in the way of the brain doing it's job in that spot.

    I explain these ideas in different ways depending on who I am talking to, how old, what they can understand, etc.

  3. We tell Julia that her therapists are helping her be the best her that she can be. That there are things she cannot do as easily as others, or cannot do at all (and she understands what is different about her, even though she doesn't fully comprehend all that, for example, not being able to walk entails), and the therapists are trying to help her do that, since they are things she wants to do. I've also started trying to explain that they are trying to reposition her (she's just started wearing a night splint for her right arm to help with supination), because sometimes if your body is in a position that isn't "right", for lack of a better word, it can cause problems later and hurt her, and we don't want that. I've found that it becomes both easier and harder as they get older - they understand more of what you're saying, but they also understand more of what you're saying, which leads to more questions and explaining.


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