Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


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NOVEMBER 14, 2008 11:12AM

No One Said There Would be a Testicle Exam!

Rate: 20 Flag


It’s that time of year again.  Time for school physicals.  This year it was Evan’s turn, but nothing can compare to the time I had to take Matt for his 6th grade middle school physical.  

I knew that he had to get at least one shot, and since he suffers from anxiety, I waited to tell him until two hours before it was time to leave home. Still, Matt is the sort of kid who likes to be prepared for things. While I had some leeway with telling him about the doctor’s appointment, I knew that if I took him to the doctor's office and the whole Shot Thing was just sprung on him, he'd completely freak out.

I've never believed in lying to my kids. If they need a shot, I tell them the truth. If they ask if it’s going to hurt, I tell them the truth: yes, it hurts a little but it's over quickly.  I handled Matt's 6th grade physical the same way. 

Even with my carefully orchestrated preparation, he was a wreck. I had to practically drag him out of the house. I literally had to push him into the doctor's office. In the exam room, he stayed near the corner, kept his head down, avoided eye contact, and didn’t want to answer any questions.  Not the usual behavior from my typically gentle, polite, cooperative, respectful-of-authority child.

The exam was moving along OK. Matt wasn't happy but he was cooperative with the nurse and the doctor until he heard that there would be a testicle examination. A WHAT?! Who knew there would be a testicle exam?  This is not going to go well.  I looked at Matt and could tell that it was a definite deal-breaker. His eyes were the size of silver dollars.  He looked at me in fear and slowly shook his head NO.  

Dr. Joe, bless him, assured Matt in his most comforting doctor-voice that it wasn't going to hurt and that all boys his age need to have this done.  

“In fact,” said Dr. Joe, “you've had this done before when you were very young.”   

Matt didn't care. He emphatically announced, "There is no way that I am having this done." He crossed his arms across his chest for added drama. 

I told him that he had no choice; the exam was required for school, and all of his friends had to have it done, too. His response: "Good for them, but I’m not doing it."

Hoo boy.  I told him I'd leave the room. No.  I told him I would turn my head. No.  He said it wasn't me; he just didn't want Dr. Joe looking at his business. I told Matt that Dr. Joe has seen plenty of "business", in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  

Dr. Joe chuckled and agreed, "Oh, yes, I've seen plenty of "business".

Matt replied, "Well, I don't want him seeing MY business."

This is where I could feel the mother-panic rising:  What am I going to do?  We’re going to be here all night.  What is wrong with this child, for crying out loud?  I’m sure no one else’s kid is this neurotic and difficult.  He must get it from his father.

Matt and I were engaged in a verbal tug of war for an eternity (or at least what felt like an eternity).  I tried desperately to convince him that all would be OK and that he needed to have this done, while Matt tried equally desperately to convince me that it wasn’t going to happen.  Not ever.   

Dr. Joe, who no doubt is in line for sainthood, waited patiently while Matt and I argued back and forth.  Finally, Matt's face brightened. I could tell he had an idea.

Matt, to Dr. Joe: "I'll let you do it if I can leave my underwear on."

Dr. Joe: "I don't know if I can feel the testicles through your underwear."

Matt, with steely determination: "It's with my underwear on or not at all."

Dr. Joe: "Ok, let's give it a try. Mom, can you turn your head?"

I turned to face the corner, Dr. Joe did the deed, and the whole thing was over in 2.3 seconds. After that ordeal, the shot that Matt received was anti-climactic. He survived just fine even though he had his eyes shut tight and his face scrunched up, expecting the worst. When it was over, he insisted on a Band-Aid, because he is, after all, still a kid (even if he is a kid with strong opinions about his "business").

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Shameless bump before I leave for work :)
Great story. A tip from someone who's been there: Before you make their dad take them to the doctor, make sure dad knows where the pediatrician's office is.
they always get it from the dad ... haha!!!
We only have girls in our family. The things you learn when you have boys. :-)

Great story!
Playing sports growing up in school they used to herd us into the gymnasium in our underwear in a line for the annual "grope and cough" exam. We always told the coaches to try and warn us on the day so we could wear boxers and make sure they were CLEAN! Of course in almost every case they sent a female nurse and not a doctor.
If they had sent a nurse that aroused the senses, we would have ALL been in big trouble.

"Nurse Goodbody get in here!" - Archie Campbell
This is hilarious to me -- not making fun of Matt, just remembering my own kid's first experience, so different, yet they're really all the same, these rites of passage.

My kid has an unbelievably high pain threshold, so shots were never an issue. But I actually didn't know that the 6th grade exam would involve "bend over and cough."

The physical went as usual. When he was told what was next, he seemed indifferent, said okay, whatever. The doctor asked me to leave the room, called me back in 2 minutes later to say my kid was healthy, head to toe. Kid got the shot with no complaint and we left. In the car he was uncharacteristically quiet. I asked if anything was wrong.

He looked at me and I saw the anger flashing in his eyes, "Is this going to happen again?"

"Yes, at every yearly exam," I said calmly, "It's important for your health."

"No fucking way. I won't go." Whoa, he never talked like that to me. His face was a mask of genuine fury. It was clear he was outraged and felt sandbagged.

I was flummoxed. Wondering WTF? I apologized for not warning him (he needs to know things ahead of time too). Silence. I told him it was no big deal. Angrier silence.

I waded in with reasons and questions. A battle royale raged for 10 minutes. It was brutal. Then inspiration hit.

"You know, Dad gets the same exam every year too," I said.

"He does?"

"Sure, every man does, even Miguel."(the revered soccer coach)

"Oh. Okay." And he turned on the radio, whistling along. Storm gone, just like that.

Maybe with Matt it's not so much about sending Dad as about telling him Dad gets the same business exam too?

You're lucky to have such a caring pediatrician and btw, you are also a saint.
Sweet Husband and I have always said that parents with out boys have NO IDEA! Always felt jealous of friends who only had little girls (we had plenty of both). Bless your little heart Lisa. I feel for ya!
I remember when I took my son for his physical for high school and I asked the doctor if she would check him "down there" and let me know if he was all right as I hadn't seen him there since he was 8 years old and no longer let me see him naked. (I just wanted to make sure he was developing properly). She came out, gave me the all clear, and I was very relieved...
I'm just glad he let her (yes, her!) check his business.
Very cute story.
Ha ha...mine got his "business" checked and was slightly uncomfortable but agreeable. He does freak out about shots. Great story, Lisa.
Not cute story. Do any of you remember the psychiatric narrative "I never promised you a Rose Garden"? It was about a young woman who had been medically traumatized & suffered a psychotic reaction to a series of urology exams. I know there are those that don't believe medical trauma can produce a psychosis, but I will ignore them. I happen to have been molested by a pediatrician. One day, I finally fought him off, my weapon being a waterford vase which I threated to toss at him! He still made housecalls back in 1956. My Dad knew there was something very wrong going down and I recall him cheerfully telling the Doctor he would pay him for his time & that he was sorry for my acting so silly. When the Dr. hesitated to leave, my Dad sort of took him by the coller. We never spoke of the incident again, but from that date on, my parents switched physicians. I must say Dr. Sid was lots more appropriate about modesty!

It seems a little too agressive to be looking at 8 yr. old privates, unless there is some pathology or symptom exhibitied. I would NEVER have tried to force that exam on a my kid. Not unless the child was complaining. There are few, very few, cases of testicular cancer at that age. If a kid hurts himself in Sports, that is something else. One of the mothers who commented that she had not seen her son's privates since infancy & wanted reassurance, sounded like Manchauson's Syndrome by Proxy! Sadly, some very sick people are attracted to work in areas like pediatrics, and Day Care Centers. Look at all those priests around the country. Some were innocent I'm sure, yet many were found to be very guilty by their own admission.

I would urge parents to respect the privacy of their kids when it comes to these screenings. Both the child and parent should have the right to refuse the procedure! Further, if there is any medical procedure that is freaking your chlid out, try to find alternatives. If a sensative kid has to see a urologist for example, make certain that sedation is available if need be! Sorry folks, I don't see the humor re violating a child's boundaries in these matters. We put enough stress on our kids without subjecting them to ridiculous and unnecessary screenings.
Susanne - while I am sorry you had such a tragic and horrible experience - Lisa's story is not one of molestation. There is no reason why a child should NOT have their private parts examined, especially under the supervision of the parent. And as a parent of 2 adopted kids that have required a certain degree of medical care - NO - kids do NOT have the right to refuse a procedure. Even if they think something is going to be bad, they always realize after that Mama and Papa are there no matter what. To NOT give any child the medical care that is appropriate for their age or their medical condition is parental neglect.

It is a sweet story, & well told. Makes me wonder what will happen when mine get a little older. I would pose the question; Is this kind of physical discomfort with "private parts" learned from the parents? Or is it something innate? I certainly don't have the answer, but it is interesting to contemplate.
I just love your kid stories! Your guy reminds me of my guy -- I could totally see this happening to us in a few more years.

Rated and enjoyed.
Susanne – I am truly sorry that as a child, you endured such a horrific experience. I know from experience that there are evil, sick people in the world who prey on children. I regret that you found my story so offensive. It was not my intention to offend anyone.

I’m not sure if you have children of your own, and if you do, if any of them are boys, but testicle exams, much like breast and pelvic exams for women, are a required part of a physical examination for males. Are they awkward? Absolutely. However, learning to deal with such things is a necessary part of growing up. Everyone goes through it. That is why there were so many comments from people who understood what my son and I had experienced.

In remembering your own pain, I believe that you’ve missed the most illuminating part of my story. My son was hardly a victim. He felt empowered enough to come up with a solution for negotiating this exam in a way that he found acceptable and comfortable. His feelings were regarded, I was in the room with him, the exam was literally 2 seconds long, and he was wearing his underwear. There is no way that anything inappropriate happened that day. While I realize that you don’t know me in real life, suggesting that I would allow harm to come to my own child is insulting. Additionally, you are welcome to disagree with what I’ve written, but please don’t attack the parenting instincts of those who’ve come by to support me.

This story is supposed to be a humorous look at a necessary part of growing up in the life of a boy. In my opinion, if we can’t find comedy in the ordinary, and laugh at ourselves once in a while, life would be very dark and difficult indeed.
Umbrella - thanks for dragging yourself away from that cow long enough to stop by. I know you keep saying that you don't want my son but I know that deep inside, you really feel differently. :)

Faith - Good point! I've actually had something similar to that happen before.

1_Irritated_Mother - Yes, but they never admit it.

Sandra - Thank you so much! That is high praise coming from you. You're one of my idols.

Kaysong - I'll bet you have your own interesting stories about life with girls. Thank you for stopping by.

Greg - Thank goodness you showed up here. I think all the rest of the guys saw "testicle exam" in the title and ran in the opposite direction.

Sally - What a story - your son was certainly angry, wasn't he? You're a perceptive mom to figure out what would make him feel better about the whole thing.
gracielou - So in your opinion, which are easier? Boys or girls? I like that you call your husband "Sweet Husband". Mine saw me typing "DH" one time when speaking about him on a forum and asked if it meant "D*ckhead". He still doesn't believe me that it means "Darling Husband"!

Lisa - Another Lisa! There are quite a few of us here on OS. Thank you for taking time to read my story and comment.

Scruffus - I feel your pain. My eight-year-old is a total maniac when it comes to shots. We'll see how he handles having his business examined in middle school (yikes!)

Cherie - You know, I wondered if it was my fault that Matt was so concerned about this examination, but I don't think so. While I believe in teaching my kids safety, I don't want them to be fearful of everyone so I've never been the kind of mom to belabor the good touch / bad touch issue. I've always taught them that it's not appropriate for anyone OTHER THAN A DOCTOR to want to touch them in the area covered by their swimsuit or in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. I think in this case, it was really pre-teen self-consciousness that caused him such concern with the exam. Hopefully your son will handle it much better than mine did!

Marple - You are so kind! I love to find your name among my comments.
Lisa, your story so beautifully normalizes the experience of your son and many young boys. And it is so important to not sexualize proactive healthy precautions. It's a good model for a lifetime of them learning to take care of themselves.
God Almighty - Wow. Thank goodness Dr. Joe was gentle! Hey, while you're here, can you please do something about that little world peace problem? Thanks.
Oh, for the love of Pete.
Children are not short adults. If my kids had the right to refuse a medical procedure, they'd be dead by now. All kids would.

::head shaking::

Very funny story, Lisa. Your kid and The 10 year old BoyChild should get together and discuss this. Mine is up for his exam in May. Remind me to talk to his Dad. LOL

(thumbified for testicular fortitude)
Jodi - You are certainly right; my kids wouldn't even have an eye exam if it were up to them. When it comes to the middle school physical, definitely make The Man take him. It can be a male bonding experience. Or something. :)
Funny, funny, funny - this is why I want kids!

marcelleqb - Kids are great, but it sure does help to have a sense of humor with them. They're less taxing on your sanity that way. Thank you for your comment!
"If we can't find comedy in the ordinary..." What a great line, Lisa!
Loved your story and can only imagine as I only have girls! Guess I will know more as my grandson gets older. Happy days!
Cathy - Thank you! I don't think life is meant to be taken too seriously. Still, if I were you, I wouldn't volunteer for the testicle exam when your grandson gets older.
OH yes... those pesky little critters are a boy's bane-- medics are always needle to poke, jiggle, and comment... and then they write things down that they don't let you see.
As Elaine Benes said: " I don't know how you guys walk around with those things."
Oh, sorry... "needle" above should be "needing."
What the hey was I thinking !!
Jim - I sure feel for you guys having to endure that sort of exam. I'm glad to hear the word was "needing" instead of "needle". That made me cringe and I don't even have those kind of parts!
You all have a funny way a reading that this insulting story was a nice story. It was a story. 2-3 jokes/put-downs about men or neurosis from Dad and it's 'just too fatiguing to do again as a Mom.' Normal story, good doctor, but I think in your lust to be cute & funny you went a wee bit too the disrespectful side. Since so many other women (I am a woman) see this is the ultimate in a sweet story, then you all have the same mindset which is laugh at life, especially if men are involved. I think you ought to try being just a bit kinder when you do so, but that's just me. Second reading, a good story. Learned about his tesicular health and hernias and not a sexualized experience. All fine. Just for Pete's sake for a change leave out the crap about men...can you you give that a rest? Does a modern woman's whole life revolve around throwing a negative man bone out with every living chapter? Even I'm growing sick of that, almost attuned to it now. Pretty enlightening story again, and my two boys are now past that age. Whatever happened it always worked out. Your patience Matt surely appreciated compared to a number of other less effective, even harmful approaches, so kudos. I'm thankful Matt himself found the solution, or what's next, Lisa? -Aly
Alysse - No disrespect meant to men; I'm sorry that you felt that there was. I meant to show Matt's ability to solve his own problem along with a tough situation for a mom - the kind where you just have no clue what to do next. Even though you didn't care for this story, I still appreciate you taking the time to read and leave a comment.
My first and only testicle exam at 12 was the most horrifying day of my life. There was no monkey business, just routine child molestation for the benefit of having a soul crushed. How can a 12 year old, with unripened frontal lobes distinguish the difference between being touched by a creepy old man with a medical degree and without? Does it matter? Genitalia is for matters of sex. IF there is a problem, only then should a doctor step in. Some children are fine with being groped by strangers. I wasn't. I wanted to save being naked and touchy for love later in my life. Apparently, it's routine to destroy any shred of intimacy in our boys. We wonder why 60% of marriages fail, and we can't get why men are insensitive and walled in. Maybe it's because it's almost impossible to turn 18 without having had an adult previously fondle your junk in a way that was awkward, uncomfortable, confusing, and unfair.
After the exam, I pulled away from people and started to recoil at their touch. 12 years later, I touch nobody unless it is absolutely necessary. I enjoy being alone. I have never had a serious relationship. I trust nobody. I wipe off where people touch me because that feeling of horror returns. You know, the feeling of being touched in a place deemed private. The feeling of being tricked into sexual molestation. The feeling of submitting instead of fighting back by saying "NO!" for fear of some sort of reprisal. Everyone teaches their kids to never let an adult touch them. There are laws in place for a reason. Adults touching child genitalia is mentally detrimental, no matter the context. Please do not rob your child of intimacy by allowing unnecessary humiliating medical procedures, especially if your child is of a pubescent age. Puberty is hard enough, isn't it?
In response to Jared Wagner,I also had several experiences that caused me serious emotional trauma as a victim of what I term medical myopia, as far as the treatment of males is concerned doctors/nurses tell us to ,suck it up,be a man, as real men have no sence of modesty and should not display any emotion as far as forced nudity is concerned,even in the presence of multiple viewers(my military physical,1966) of the opposete sex,after all real men can deal with such trivial matters....Is it any wonder that so many males have anger problems,would doctors or nurses treat females in such a cavalier manner and if not why.So few nurses are willing to admit that they violate mens modesty on a daily basis.Read some of the postings on male modesty at and you will notice little regard is given to male modesty (I am not speaking of ER emergencies) as it interferes with their daily chores.
Why should we men respect people who do not respect us....To doctors and nurses:We are not friends,please do not address me by my fist name unless I ask you to,I will refer to you as doctor or nurse as you have earned your title(I hope) and ask you to be respectful of me and my family.
Jared,it was not until February of this year,2011,that I finally fought my deamons off,my wife has told me many times that I am no longer the person she married,I changed for the better and our relationship is so much better,it only took forty six years all total to open up.We have been married thirty-nine years....So do yourself a favor Jared and do not let the actions of uncaring individuals cause you the pain they caused many of us....And I will include all of the women who have suffered at the hands of some in the medical community (non concentual pelvic,breast and rectal exams by medical students while under anesthesia).

Cave ursus