Saturday, January 17, 2009

How Parenting is like Surgery

This week, the medical community discovered that if they use a simple checklist they can avoid surgical errors and experience a significant decrease in fatalities. I'm most surprised to discover which common mistakes doctors have been making, apparently up until this week. The list is long, but here are the highlights:

1. Cutting open the wrong patient
2. Operating on the wrong body part (Oh, you said SPLEEN? )
3. Not knowing members of the surgical team and their particular expertise. (You're the food services tech? I thought you were monitoring the anesthesia!)
4. Using unclean equipment. (Is that blood or BBQ sauce?)
5. Not counting instruments before and after surgery to make sure there are no stray sponges or scalpels inside the patient (I remember the medical team doing this count after my 2 c-sections. After the most recent delivery, Nu and I were amused when our team spent a full minute arguing about the number of instruments that were in or out of my belly. We were all relieved when they found that last clamp.)

I post this not to critique doctors, but because it's given me a great idea of my own. As the number of children in our family has doubled recently, Nu and I are also finding ourselves making stupid mistakes, forgetting important things (and people), and generally not keeping it all together.

So here's my proposed checklist for the imperfect parent:

1. In the morning, confirm the presence of each child and determine who they will be with that day. It's only a matter of time before Nu and I both leave the house mistakenly thinking the other has some or all of the children. Meanwhile Alex and Sasha are home alone playing RockBand while Blake and Casey sing backup from their bouncy seats.

2. Label everyone's clothes and food. It would be embarrassing for the Alex and Sasha to show up at school wearing newborn onesies and carrying a lunchboxes full of frozen breastmilk. Meanwhile, that pb&j won't do Blake and Casey much good at Grandma's house.

3. Devise some type of ropes-course-like verbal routine when double checking seat-belts. "Alex, check? Sasha, check? Drive ON!" Twice last week, I started to drive away when a 3-yr-old in the back yelled, "Mama, I'm not BUCKLED!!!! " This will be harder with the babies, but they can just waive their paci's or something.

4. Account for all medical equipment. Bandaids, pain relief (for kids and parents), and diaper cream should be easily accessible to parents but out of reach for kids. But you've got to keep that stuff secure. Sasha would wallpaper her body with cartoon bandaids if given the opportunity. As a baby, Alex once ate some Desitin while I was changing his diaper. (BTW, Poison Control says diaper cream is not toxic in small quantities)

5. Be sure equipment is present and in proper working order. Cell phones must be charged, strollers packed in the trunk, and TIVO full of Dora/Diego episodes at all times.

6. Prepare for unexpected outcomes. Extra pants, undies, and diapers should always be with you. Snacks should be close by. Grandma should be on speed dial.

So far, we've managed to keep everybody safe and reasonably happy. Here's hoping next week goes well too!


Boom said...

Here's what else I make sure I have: a bag in my purse filled with raisins, lollipops, stickers and old Halloween candy.

And sometimes, if I'm REALLY pulled together, I'll pack some emergency treats for the kids, too.

Leslie Ruth Petree said...

Oh my gosh, this is hilarious. Classic Debo.

Scout and Will use the red light/green light technique. Brian and Angela won't start driving until both kids give them the green light that says they're buckled in.

And if Scenario #1 actually ends up taking place, I'm lobbying VH1 for your own reality show.

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