The Other I

December 19, 2015

May I introduce my 5-year-old?

I was seeing my GP several weeks ago for my general annual check-up which I try to have at least once every five years.  He said high blood pressure was a frequent problem for people my age and took out his blood pressure monitor.  “Oh,” I said, “I have white coat syndrome;  it will be very high.”

“You’re worried about what I might tell you?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “I’m 75 years old.  But there’s still a 5-year-old inside me that’s worried about what you might think about me.”

“What are you worried I might think?” he asked.

After a short reflection, I answered truthfully:  “Whether I’m smart or not.  I can’t walk into a doctor’s office and take a test without feeling that I have to get an A grade.  If I don’t, I’ve failed.”

The doctor demurred.

And my 75-year-old self does too, of course.  But that 5-year-old stubbornly wants the approval of passing the test.

To my surprise, I found making this confession out loud quite liberating.  It’s obviously so neurotic. Even now, I’ve found myself tempted to try to fake the tests – something which I’ve found it is sometimes surprisingly easy to do.  But what a stupid self-defeating thing to even contemplate.  And does it make me smarter to pass an exam meant to find out if I have a medical problem?  No, it make me stupid.

I’ve told this story to several friends and discovered that a good many of us seem to harbor these stubborn 5-year-olds within.  One 5-year-old – resident in a very attractive mature and not over-weight woman – screams that she’s fat.  Another one that she’s lazy – she is one of the most industrious workers I know.

Some children just don’t grow up, do they?

(I am glad to say I did not fiddle the blood-pressure figures the doctor had me take for three days at home.  I thought the figures were not A+.  But the doctor says I’m in “good nick.”  Glad he’s not been deluded by my resident 5-year-old.)

Blog at WordPress.com.