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What's this "we" $h!t?

"What's this 'we' $h!t?" That's what my dad would say in response to any statement that started with "we" and was followed by "should." He didn't enjoy being told what ought to be done, especially if it involved him. Hmmmm. Perhaps this is in the DNA.

The phrase comes to mind because lately me and mine have been in contact with quite a few members of the health-care profession. (Everybody's fine; let's just say we've had our issues. Thanks for asking.) Nurses use the royal "we" a lot. Not all of them, but when you get one who does, you notice. It's especially irksome when the speaker is referring to bodily functions or procedures that are not shared experiences. "We" do not have colonoscopies, for instance. "We" will not be making a payment on the braces today, unless the receptionist cares to chip in? Oh, wouldn't that be fabulous?

And while I'm on the topic, there are two people who can call me "Mom." They are minors and they live with me. I am their mother; ergo, they call me "Mom." The receptionist at my children's doctor's office does not happen to be one of my children. (I think that might be a HIPAA violation.) And yet, she calls me "Mom" as she hands me a clipboard and asks me to fill out insurance forms. It's happened many times over the years, usually spoken by a nurse or a teacher. Of course, I never react directly to the person who suddenly regards herself as my offspring. Perhaps she has issues with her own mother and I seem like a handy substitute or fantasy. (I must say, I can seem pretty cool at times.) Later, in the parking lot, I remind myself that she couldn't possibly know how much it irritates me. It's probably just shorthand for addressing the dozens of parents she sees in a given day. But I can't help seething. I am not your mother. For one thing, I couldn't possibly be that old.

I think I hate this for the same reason I hate that we $h!t. The speaker is making assumptions. When I say "We should...," I'm imposing my to-do list on another person, who probably has his or her own mental list of shoulds. Likewise, when someone other than one of my children calls me "Mom," he or she tosses me into a bucket marked "moms." In the bucket of moms, there are no individuals; we are merely the vessels that deliver the children, in birth and then by mini-van, to their appointed destinations. As a society, I think we should really do something about this.
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