The Mother-O-Meter

19 Aug

Forgive me for talking about illness like a tape that is stuck on repeat, catching the same line over and over as you try to wrench it out of the player, but it’s pretty much all I have had to think about this week (well, all I want to discuss!).

Do you have a mother-o-meter?

I do. They should be patented. My friend Lou and I were discussing this yesterday, and it’s true. Everyone has one. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, black or white, tall or short, adult or child; everyone refers to the mother-o-meter of ill in times of sickness.

There are various stages of sick, and they go a little like this.

Stage 1 – “I don’t feel well” cough.” Cough tends to be added as an aside, almost to prove illness. In the case of a child, this can be attributed to not wanting to go to school, in an adult a hangover or need for slight want of sympathy, but not too bothered if not received.

Stage 2 – “you go along for dinner/to your mums / to the cinema without me. I don’t feel up to it” general symptoms of not feeling well worsened if this is heard on Christmas day. Victim is generally sick, although in the case of a visit to your family, could be hamming it up for effect to become excused from proceedings.

Stage 3 – “I think I’m dying. Call my mum.”

Yep, the final decision on illness is to call your mother. My mother, often nicknamed Doctor Diagnosis is relied upon for any sort of malheureuse, as she is the mother-o-meter. Symptoms are put to her like an oracle, and you wait with baited breath until she gives out a verdict.

“Headache, aversion to light, rash…… (We wait…) meningitis! I’m taking you to hospital!” although in a teenage case the answer to these symptoms was normally “hangover, fell in a bush on way home, go back to bed!” (Or go to college if you were really unlucky and caught her on a particularly harsh day.)

When we were really little she used to have a thermometer that was made out of a similar sort of material as old fashioned photo negatives (those were the days) that flimsy sort of not-quite-plastic, not-quite-paper. It was stuck on your head, and went one of the colours of the rainbow depending on how high your temperature and it could never be fooled. My mother can sense a faker from thirty paces, and this made her perfect for the position of school nurse when I was a kid. I was the child whose mother worked at the school. In my nightmares I heard her shouting “WHERE do you think you’re going?!” to children in the corridors, and generally haunting my childhood. School is a place you go to be rid of your parents, surely?! Said faker was given a stern look and told that if they still felt ill at lunch then to come back. By this time you had made it through most of the school day and had to suffer PE so you didn’t really care anymore.

But the mother-o-meter is universal, something that I learned when talking to Lou. She was telling me about her husband’s migraine, and how he had informed her that he thought his head might explode, and she should call his mum. It’s like making the necessary funeral arrangements, isn’t it? I cannot sort this out with paracetemol, so I must call my mother.

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8 Responses to “The Mother-O-Meter”

  1. prenin August 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    My mum insists that I used to fake illness like stomach cramps to get me sent home early.

    Not True as they were for real.

    She once sent me to School with my left heel split to the bone, but I was limping so badly she relented, examined the injury and whisked me back home where I had to wait for it to heal.

    No trip to the doctor though…

    Love and hugs!

    Prenin.

    • sn2snblog August 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

      I think you have just sussed out the psychology behind the fabled “Man Flu”. 😀 I enjoyed reading this brought a smile to my face.
      Thank you. 🙂

  2. Adam August 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    “Malheureuse” indeed.
    Were you in hospital because you swallowed a thesaurus?
    Hope you’re feeling better, anyway!

    • tinkerbelle86 August 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      ah Adam, I forgot how much of a knob you are! 🙂

  3. jessiepeace August 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    “Hungover, and fell in a bush on the way home.” Thats amused me. When I was little I didn’t really fake illnesses because I was a goody goody, and I wouldn’t dare tell a lie. Well thats a bit of a lie, I used to sit and pretend I was not listening to my mum and whoever was in the rooms conversations. And they would say “Jess, is a day dreamer she can’t hear us, she’s in another world”… But I wasn’t. It was great. Other than that, I was a mummy’s girl, so If I said I was ill, I was the ‘illest’ and got loads of attention.

    It wasn’t like poor Jessie to be ill.
    Mummy’s are our saviour’s.

    • tinkerbelle86 August 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      you smile but it did happen. a friend of mine went for a wee in a bush on the way home one night and fell into some nettles, but thats another story! 🙂

  4. Sandra Bell Kirchman August 20, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    It’s not only universal, but it’s inter-generational, too, Belle. Usually my mom could spot a fever at 50 paces. Of course, I was a somewhat sickly child, so she had plenty of practice. However, my mom was also very stubborn. She had asked my dad and me to clean up the back yard weekend after weekend and we always found some really good excuse not to. This one weekend Mom told the two of us, there is no way you are going to get out of that yard-cleaning this time. You could tell by the stern look on her face and the modulated but crisp tone of her voice.

    Well, as luck would have it, I felt terrible, splitting headache, fuzzy mouth, feverish. I was only 11 or 12, so it wasn’t a hangover. I knew if I told Mom I was sick she wouldn’t even listen to me, just point to the yard. So I went out in the blazing heat of a hot summer morning and started picking up things. I lasted about half an hour before I collapsed. We lived on Centre Island in Toronto and I had to be rushed to the hospital by water ambulance (my deepest regret was that I was too sick to appreciate it). I had scarlet fever and was not only hospitalized, but quarantined.

    After I was able to talk, I had my petty little revenge (so sue me, I’m a Scorpio). She asked me why on earth I hadn’t told her I was so sick. I smirked and said, “After all the yard-cleaning warnings, I was positive you wouldn’t listen to me.”

    Mom was silent for a moment, as guilt played across her face. That was the one and only time she didn’t nail the ailment within 5 minutes. If it hadn’t been for the yard, she would have looked at me and pronounced it scarlet fever. And she wasn’t even a nurse.

    • tinkerbelle86 August 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      oh no! that must be every mothers nightmare, being strict and then being wrong!

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