Childrearing

My 9-Year-Old Is A Hypochondriac Because I Let Her Watch Too Many Medical Shows

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kids and TVWhen my daughter asked me worriedly if she had Tourette’s syndrome, I knew I had to re-consider our television viewing habits.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Well, my toe twitched,” she said and then repeated the question, “Do you think I have Tourette’s syndrome?”

Oh, Lordy-Lord. Sigh. I never thought I’d raise a neurotic little girl, but there you go. THIS is what watching BAD television does to you, I thought, once I explained to my daughter that you couldn’t CATCH Tourette’s syndrome. Also, it’s TOO late for her to have dwarfism. (Yes, the question was asked.)

We had been watching this show called, “The Undateables,” where matchmakers try to set up adults with “deformities,” little people and those with learning disabilities. (Actually, I find the title of the show absolutely misleading, because those featured on the show aren’t really “undateable.”)

My daughter is also convinced that my son – her brother – may be a dwarf, because, like Chelsea Handler, I’m addicted to all shows that have to do with little people and so is my daughter.

“He’s 10 months old! He’s supposed to be small!” I said to my daughter, who is convinced he is, medically, a dwarf. And if he weren’t then she would like him to be after seeing a feature documentary on primordial dwarfism.

So I’m living with a 9-year old who not only thinks she has certain syndromes, but also would LIKE to have them.

I have one very good friend who is super neurotic. She has a pimple? BRAIN CANCER! She has a headache? BRAIN TUMOR! Her sinuses are hurting? BRAIN CANCER! Her foot fell asleep? BRAIN TUMOR? She has the hiccups? BRAIN CANCER!

I told my daughter about my neurotic friend (who she knows) and that it would be better if she didn’t end up like that. Frankly, it’s pretty annoying to talk your friend off the ledge every time she notices a change in her body or has a sinus infection.

My daughter and I started watching medical shows, or shows that feature people who are born with a syndrome that affects one in a trillion, when she was only three. She was addicted to them from the start and could easily sit there and watch an hour-long documentary on the 450-pound man or the Tallest Man in the World or on Siamese Twins. I thought it was wonderful that she was so fascinated and thought for sure she was going to be a doctor, because what other child is so fascinated by these shows?

Well, she may still be a doctor one day…or she could turn out to be a completely neurotic adult.

I always thought these shows and documentaries were a “learning experience.” To be honest, these shows were also something we could both agree on watching. I can’t stand her pre-teen shows and she can’t stand the news shows I like watching.

But now? Oy. I think I’ve made a grave mistake in letting her watch this stuff. She has so many questions ranging from, “Do you know an actually giant?” (Um, no.) to, “How come that little baby needs an MRI?” (Um, I’m not really sure) to “What if I get Down Syndrome?” (You can’t “get it,” but yes I’d still love you the exact same.)

So, I think I need to break up with TLC, at least when my daughter is around. But it may be too late. As I dropped her off at school this morning, thankfully, she didn’t ask if I personally knew conjoined twins. But she did say she was going to be a doctor.

“A genetic doctor!” she announced. “So I can work with little people.”

That’s very nice, I told her.

But then she added, “Like Holt!”

Who knows what the teacher thought when I yelled out the window, “He is supposed to be that height! He is not a little person!”

(photo: jirasaki / Shutterstock)