Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Other people fighting

This memory was dredged up from the toxic memory sludge pile by this post of Esereth's.

Here's the set-up:

Setting: Some cheap roadside motel on the way back to Seattle from Ashland Oregon.

Cast: 3 year-old Em, me, my brother, SIL, their two kids (4 and 8.)

Scene: SIL is sitting on the end of the bed in the motel room with her arms wrapped around her two kids, one kid on each side. She is in tears, raging at my brother. My brother is standing up facing them, looking puzzled. The door to the room is open to the outside. I am sitting on the curb trying to keep a 3 year old occupied and out of the fray.

Plot: My niece has a raging ear infection and a fever. Niece has had convulsions before as a result of a fever. SIL wants to take her to a local emergency room. My brother wants to wait until tomorrow so they can go to a local provider because then the visit will be covered by insurance.

Relevant background: They are not poor. They could very easily afford this emergency room expense.

Irrelevant background: We were on our way home from the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. The Mister and i were separated so he was not present. Em and i were arranging cigarette butts in the gutter.

What happened: They did not go to the emergency room. We had a very uncomfortable dinner that night. Thank god Em and i had our own room.

My opinion: I think they should have gone to the emergency room. I love my brother, but in this case he was being a real ass. If any parent is that worried about their child, EVEN IF THEY ARE BEING SILLY, go. It's worth it to spend the money so that the one parent is relieved. If it had been me i would have said "I'm going, do you want to come or not?"

So, and this is back to Esereth's point, which parent wins out in cases like this, where there is a sharp disagreement about child rearing?


Peach Pod said...

I felt like I was there with you. I would have simply picked up the car keys and my child and left. My soon-to-be ex knew better than to get in my way when it comes to my kid.

peevish said...


That may not seem fair, but I'm with the kids way more than he is, so he is smart enough to defer to me on these matters. Also, his philosophy, since even before we had kids, is "Anything to shut you up." which totally works for both of us.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Whew - that other story was a doozy and I have to admit I sympathize with the husband on that one. Fathers can be particular about their daughters and I think one has to be respectful of that.

Your story? I would have gone to the emergency room.

Great post - got me thinking, as usual. :-)

alphawoman said...

Thank God for urgent care centers! I would have gone and to hell with him. He'd get over it. The child might not.

Anonymous said...

We somehow stumbled onto the philosophy of "if we don't see it the same way, we do whatever the really worried parent thinks we should do." That covered a lot of issues, and saved us a huge amount of grief. If one for parent thought a situation was safe, for example, and the other didn't (and couldn't be convinced), we went with what the worried parent needed.

QT said...

Wow - I got a total visual on that one - nicely done. I don't understand how you could want to wait given that set of circumstances. So much can happen while you wait, can't it?

Lynnea said...

I think it depends on the disagreement. I think that if its about health, wellness and safety, the parent opting on the side of caution and worry wins. Otherwise, the line gets thinner and harder to draw - it becomes a negotiation of sorts I suppose. But never negotiate in front of the children - bad move.
So like if its about where a kid should attend school or what type of clothes they should wear or if they should be allowed to spend the night at a relatives - etc etc. As long as there are no real dangers (i.e. relative is sicko) then it comes down to assessing pros and cons and deciding together.

Mignon said...

When it comes to children, I will argue vehemently you should ALWAYS concede to intuition, whether it be the mom's or the dad's. Not without discussion though. Gotta have that.

Special K ~Toni said...

I have the final call. I know these boys inside and out, and their health is of utmost concern to me.

Is this the same brother who's 'time is more valuable than everybody else's?'

Jessica said...

I bet your SIL still remembers that weekend while your brother has forgotten it. Or remembers only because she brings it up during arguments.

"Go with the worried parent" I'm definitely putting that one in my bag of parent wisdom.

thailandchani said...

I believe the well-being of the child should always take priority over anyone's ego needs. If there is even a small possibility that the child might be sick, go to the ER or urgent care clinic.



Bob said...

What do you do when there is any disagreement? That's what both of these really are. The only difference between these two cases are the seriousness of consequences. Every relationship needs a means of conflict resolution. If there is no agreement on a course of action and neither partner can change the other's decision, well, you have to then decide for yourself what you will do. Here's where the degree of seriousness of the consequences comes into play and it is a case by case decision. There is no way to make a blanket choice (i.e. I will always do what I think when we disagree) that retains any respect for your partner.

my personal opinion in each case is: pictures of naked babies - if one partner has a strong feeling about it, respect it. no naked baby pictures. the strong opinion may bely some deeper issues, but you can't address the issue by ignoring their feelings.

sick child: if the child has gone into convulsions before (which is not unheard of for high fevers) then go to the hospital. Peace of mind doesn't come into it, the child's health does. Not getting braces for crooked teeth is a valid choice for monetary reasons, but not going to the emergency room for known issues is not.

Several comments made above of the "I win/I rule/what I say goes absolutely when it comes to the children" type bother me a lot. Do they not trust their partner? Now if this is a mutually arrived at decision between them & their partner - okay. But that isn't what they said. What else is going on in those relationships that there is such a mistrust? What an arbitrary and high-handed attitude.

Anonymous said...

Even though I would have been arguing the cheap bastard's position, he should have taken them to the hospital. If they could really afford it, then it was cruel of him to make everyone suffer.

I agreed with Esereth's conclusion. I have some cute backyard kiddie pool pictures that my husband objected to sharing.

Otherwise, I think parenting is pretty much the same as any decision you make together - if you can't reach an agreement, then the partner with the greatest conviction or most at stake should make the call. Even though I am the full-time parent, I don't feel I should always have the final word. Sometimes it's a one-and-done, other times you have the opportunity to say, "this isn't working" and revisit it.

Girlplustwo said...

I don't know who should always win, but damn if i wouldn't go down fighting a holy war if i thought my kid was in danger.

it's hard, isn't determine who has more at stake. but in this case, obviously, SIL was right.

and i hate it when people scream and rage at each other in front of their kids.

meno said...

peachpod, me too, although this would have been complicated by the fact that we were all traveling in the same car.

lisa, it sounds as fair as any other method. :)

cagey, i sympathized with the husband in Esereth's post too.

alphawoman, exactly! Why make the child wait a day?

anne, when the Mister and i were done being separated, we talked about this and came to the same conclusion that you have. Worrieder wins!

qt, it was quite the scene. I had forgotten all about it too. I wonder why??? (NOT!)

maggie, as i said, it was quite the scene, there in front of her children. That part was not cool.

mignon, and i will argue right beside you.

toni, it is not that brother, this is my oldest brother, who is my friend. He was just being a really practical ass right then.

jessica, i bet you are right, but i sure as hell am not going to ask them. I am not that brave.

chani, i don't know if it was an ego need, just being oddly practical at an inappropriate time.

Anonymous said...

I thank the Lord we agree on most of the child-rearing issues. I think it's what has kept us together so long because trust me, in some of the other aspects of our relationship, the picture ain't as purty. It sounds like a very nasty scene. I thank you for sharing it though. Life ain't always purty.(that's what I love about it and what keeps me coming back to Meno's place!)

Joan said...

I'm not a parent but it seems to me that, when it's an issue of a child's health, you should err on the side of caution and seek medical help...even if it turns out to be nothing.

meno said...

bob, as you point out, each situation is different. I agree with you in both these cases. As to your other point, there are parents who are glad to abdicate any child-centered decision making to the other parent. So, it sounded like it was a mutually arrived at decision. But, as always, you have brought up some good questions.

hi de, that's what i thought at the time, although (can you believe it?) no one asked for my opinion.

jen, amen to the holy war. For me there was just no question on that one. And i don't admire my SIL for dragging the kids in on it either.

caro, you should start a blog about those un-purty things. :)

joan, i know that my brother did not feel that his child was in any danger, just uncomfortable. But stil.....

Lynn said...

Seems to me that if your SIL tried to bring down the fever, with cool wash cloths and Tylenol or Motrin, and the fever did not come down, then a trip to the emergency room may have been in order. However, if she did not try these other measures first, then you brother was right. Unfortunately when you have a crying child, it is difficult for either parent to think clearly. The problem with going to emergency rooms for a fever and ear infection, is that it clogs up the emergency room. Clearly if your niece had a seizure then that would kick the fever and ear infection up to a different level, and the emergency room visit would have been warranted. I am not one to rush my kids to the doctor...I am more of a let's wait and see kind of hubby isn't, and there have been a few occasions where hubby as asked me to please take Ten or Twelve (whoevers sick) to the doctor, because it would make him feel better if the doctor sees them. Even though I don't feel a visit to the doctor's is necessary, I take them that my husband has peace of mind.

Imez said...

I think we might have set a thresh-hold, "if these symptoms appear, we go." I hate not being a united front with my husband.

HEY!! I got in the first 20 this time!!

Lee said...

In my case, my ex makes empty promises like, "I will paying for 100% of the braces, but then tells the child, "Since I'm paying, we'll do it on my schedule." Three years later and a hundred emails later, I make the appointments and the payments too.

Girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the parent who wins out is usually the one who has the health insurance coverage. And this might be the parent who insists on going to the E.R., because some plans might cover that.

That said, I will also add this little gender observation: I have heard more stories than I can remember about mothers who insisted on E.R. treatment, over and above the protestations of their stingy husbands, and in more than one instance it saved the child's life. (In two cases that I can think of off hand, the children had meningitis and would have died otherwise.) Regardless of the outcome, wouldn't a parent rather be safe than sorry?

peevish said...

Bob, and anyone else who cares:

My statement about who wins in this type of situation (which seems to me pretty specific) is accurate of my household, and it works for us. Years of experience with our kids while Mr. Man was out earning our only paycheck have given me the upper hand in making these judgements. However, I don't mean to give the impression that we don't consult each other equally, and respect each other equally in other matters. I would be lost without him and his calm, solid presence while I'm losing my shit about some mishap or other. I consider the "what to do if one of the kids is ill" scenario just another of those division of labor things. ANd there have certainly been times when I've asked him "Am I overly concerned here?". There was one time when our oldest was about 11 months old when intuition told me to not be brushed off by our doctor's nurse and pursue medical treatment, so I did. Turns out our daughter had an intusseseption, which is a medical emergency. That taught me to trust my instincts.

ellie bee said...

lisa, you are so right about trusting your instincts. My son had intusseption too, and I had 2 pediatric intensivists (the dad and his partner), and a pediatric radiologist all telling me I was nuts.
I tell the residents every day:" you don't worry about the kid who's mom can tell you what is wrong with her kid--you worry about the kid who's mom "has a bad feeling about this". Instinct is everything.
I guess I have seen too many kids hurt when parents DON'T seek medical attention, but to be honest, I have seen thousands more who's parents could have stayed home.
Bottom line, I'd rather see one that didn't need me than one that needed me yesterday.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think your brother was in the wrong. It sounds as if there was a dominance issue between him and his wife, and your niece was their battleground.

He should not have taken chances on his daughter's health, especially in view of her medical history. If his wife acceded to his demand that they wait against her own best instincts, she is building resentment against him and they are in trouble.

I'm glad your niece turned out to be ok, but a night of worry could easily have been averted.

As for Esereth's post, I am always astounded by those who view naked babies as nudity. I was kicked off beaches regularly when each of my children was two because they all refused to wear bathing suits at that age.

But I agree with those who said that her mother's behavior was shameful in attempting to come between her daughter and her husband, no matter what her opinion was. It was a most unfair thing to do to Esereth, and also placed the husband in a position from which he could not back down without losing face, never a good way to win points.

Mother of Invention said...

Well, I know who should have won out...the one who sees the issue with a child's health as being paramount...absolutely! Children always come first, end of story.
I think she should have said she was going anyway.

Just wondering..Was this a typical episode for this couple? Did they stay together?

Paul said...

Hmm... Hence the title of your blog, which is pretty good!

meno said...

lynn, it has been a while and i don't remember those details. I know i have taken Em to the dr when the Mister was concerned about something and i wasn't. I just don't see any reason to make him worry.

esereth, you are always in my top twenty!

lee, when i hear these stories about the ex-spouse pulling this kind of crap, i am very glad not to be divorced. i am sorry you, and your child, have to put up with that shit.

ortizzle, they both have the coverage as they are married. And better safe than sorry is exactly the point.

lisa, well said.

ellie bee, i have never heard of this intusseption. Yikes. And every doctor i have ever taken Em to has been kind and understanding, even if it was nothing (which it seldom was.)

hearts, i have a picture of an 18 month old Em at a beach, wearing a flap hat, water shoes, and sunscreen. So cute. You are wise with the rest of your comments.

moi, they are still married. They will always be married. When they were younger (as in this memory) they occasionally had these horrible fights, without regard to whomever else was present. I haven't seen them do it in years.

Anonymous said...

I would have told my husband to go fuck a goat and then driven the kid to emergency myself.

My husband and I have many disagreements on child rearing, it's our only real entertainment. Keeps our marriage counsellor busy as well:)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read any other comments yet (I try not to read before I post comments), so forgive me if I'm repeating others' wisdom, but DUH**!! It's not about a parent WINNING - it's about tending to the needs of the CHILD.

I mean, it's one thing to argue about whether or not the kid gets to stay up a half hour later or is allowed to have dessert. This baby was SICK. You could have pulled a stranger out of the motel lobby and s/he could have told you the kid was sick. Sick babies need to be seen by medical professionals, and the sooner a child's condition can be treated - and the child's suffering can start easing - the better. A parent's job is the take care of their babies until they can take care of themselves. Your brother was childish and stupid and cheap and WRONG.

(**not you Meno -that's not what I mean by "DUH!!" but you knew that already, right?)

Anonymous said...

The parent who first realizes it isn't about "winning" and does what is best for the child.

Marshamlow said...

At our house we are two very opinionated parents who both have strong wills. I think we disagree about more than we agree upon. While that sounds bad, we don't really get mad or are hurtful in our disagreement, we just seem to be endlessly discussing all things. I can't really put into words who wins...The discussion process takes on many different paths from one winning to compromise to one winning initially only to be overruled later etc.

For some reason when my kids are sick I immediately want to take them to the doctor, no questions asked. This is not a logical solution just me. I know this is my head, still I always want to go. So we tend to have this discussion whenever a kid is sick, me we NEED to go to the doctor, him are you sure? etc. He would never stand in the way if I was sure, but tends to talk me down from thinking the kid is going to die from a 99 degree fever.

At our house there are no naked baby pictures, not that there is anything wrong with that, just not something we feel the need to do.

Sometimes I depend on my husband to pull me back from an irational instinct and sometimes he depends on my instincts. I guess our debates and their resolutions are part logic and part empathy. Loved this topic and everyone's responses.

sari said...

I agree - health, welfare and intiution should be listened to. Children's health and safety, first.

I would have gone to the ER.

gary rith said...

Listen, point one, the child's health is most important, point two, ear aches HURT, point three, maybe the guy should have realized that a little kid who is in pain is going to ruin the night screaming and suffering, so obviously.....
Buddha said something like 'the purpose of life is to ease suffering'

Tink said...

I would have gone to the hospital.

I'm neither married nor a Mother yet, but I can tell you this much... I will ALWAYS win in these debates because I don't need anyone elses "approval" to do what I feel is right for my kid(s). Period.

meno said...

paul, i like it too, thanks!

deb, me too, although i might have suggested himself rather than the goat.

mrs.chili, what was really stricking was that i don't usually see anyone fight like that in front of witnesses. Anyway, i totally agree with you.

manalujo, but you know that, unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Look at Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin. Ick.

marsha, it sounds like you have worked out a good system of checks and balances.

sari, me too. The hell with those stupid insurance companies!

gary, she was 4, so old enough to not scream. but point taken.

tink, you'll be a great mom lady!

Dick said...

I think it makes sense to error on the side of caution, especially when the child has had convulsions previously. However, they should try Tylenol and wet wash clothes or a cool/warm bath first to see if it helped.

As to the naked child photos, I'm not sure I agree with the father but the MIL is TOTALLY wrong to insist that her daughter go against his strong feelings on the issue.

Anonymous said...

At our house, whoever thinks the child should go to the ER gets to drive said child to the ER and wait there for hours and hours. And hours. While the spouse puts the other child to bed and watches TV and goes to bed. Guess which one I am? Come on. Guess!

Liv said...

I guess it's silly for me to put in my two cents since I'm a chronic photographer of my own naked babies... And, truthfully, I never gave a thought to who it might offend. Turns out that my erstwhile husband wasn't too keen on them.

Medically speaking, I run the show. Okay, truthfully, Ellie Bee runs the show. But I make noise.

luckyzmom said...

I have always been the decision maker for my childrens health because, like toni, we were a military family and my husband was often deployed or TDY(on temporary duty) or at war(Desert Storm).

If my husband had been around to protest about nude baby pictures, he would have been honored because he was at the top of the chain of command. (that last was a feeble attempt at humor).

There was a school of thought way back when that it was good to let your kids hear you argue, resolve and stay together. That has changed.

Anonymous said...


Move to England.

Have free health care.

Argue about something else.