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Jewish World Review Oct. 6, 2004 / 21 Tishrei 5765

Betsy Hart

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Consumer Reports

Maybe laughter really is the best medicine | Sometimes kids really do say the darnedest things.

That's the fun behind a new book, "The Joys of Pediatrics," by Dr. Mohsen Ziai, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This is a compilation of real-life stories about parents, kids and doctors, culled from pediatricians around the country, and it's simply hilarious.

Here's one story: A mother brought in her 4-year-old because she was concerned about his hearing. After the doctor determined his hearing was fine and related this to the mother, the boy piped up quite seriously, "I always hear her, but sometimes I just don't want to answer."

A 5-year-old patient's ear was bruised, and no one could figure out why. There was concern about a bleeding disorder. Finally, the child explained, "My daddy can play the piano by ear, and so can I."

Another doctor was going through developmental screening with a young boy. He asked him if he could stand on one foot. The child nodded yes and promptly stamped on the doctor's toes.

A 5-year-old came in with the complaint of something "up her nose." When the doctor finally extracted a button, the doctor assured the mortified mom, "Kids do these things all the time." At which point the child exclaimed, "I'm going to put a bigger one up there next time!"

An ill 5-year-old came in to his doctor, who said, "We'll have you fixed in no time." The terrified boy responded, "But we just had our dog fixed!"

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But even more than the stories about the kids, I love the stories about the parents. I remember an exam of one of my own children, during which the doctor happened to tell me that parents would sometimes be so mortified if their child didn't pass a developmental exam with flying colors that they would call him after hours to say things like, "Really, doctor, as soon as we got home my child counted to 10, no problem!"

This doctor wasn't alone.

In chapters called "Parent Parade," pediatricians recount stories like this one. A mother of six called frantic about a child's high temperature — but she then brought in the wrong child to be examined.

There are many stories about parents calling pediatricians in the middle of the night to report that their child was doing much better than before, or that the medicine was really working! (Thank you very much for waking me out of a sound sleep.) There was, for instance, the mother who called her pediatrician in the wee hours to talk about the rash her doctor had cured in her young child the week before. What was the problem? She was so worried it might come back, that she couldn't sleep.

Then there are the parents who actually give their child the medication for an ear infection in the infected ear itself.

Maybe laughter really is the best medicine, as the much-loved Reader's Digest magazine column would put it.

But not always. In chapters titled "Heartwarming Tales," doctors tell of their young, seriously ill and sometimes dying patients and the courage they showed in facing the challenges before them. "Heartwarming" is putting it mildly.

In this book there is, blessedly, no advice, no how-tos, no experts who know better than anyone else about kids, no agenda. It's just a delightful glimpse into the straightforward and often very literal world of children. This book is a reminder that, for all that we adults might try to make their world a complicated one, the world of a child can be a charmingly simple and delightful one. It can also be hysterically funny

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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© 2004, Scripps Howard News Service