*Post written by: Jennifer Thompson, www.trulyyoursjen.com
I feel like the suburban mom version of Eminem in the movie 8 Mile.
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs,
But he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down….”
They call our names. The moment I had been dreading all morning was upon us. There was no turning back now. Palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy….thankfully no vomit on my sweater.
The four of us follow the women back into the room. Women. They brought two this time. Maybe there was a note letting them know how poorly it went the last time we were here.
I could see the note now. “Things got a bit wild. Please send reinforcements.”
One of the women closes the door. They both look at me and smile. It was time. They had no idea what they were in for.
I had brought three children with me to a doctor’s appointment. Game on.
I have four children. I needed to keep that in mind. This could always be worse.
I’m not sure why, but the minute the door closes at a doctor’s office – it’s like my children have hopped straight out of the pages of Maurice Sendak’s, Where the Wild Things Are.
Maybe it’s because we are trapped in a tiny, toyless room surrounded by a plethora of foreign objects that scream, “Pretty. Shiny. Pointy. Grab me!” – all while I’m screaming, “Look, but don’t touch!”
I try to help the situation. I bring toys, coloring books, crayons and other gadgets and gizmos. That doesn’t matter. The only thing that usually happens is a crayon explosion of mass proportions on the floor. I guess it’s way more fun to dump the crayons than to actually color? And the one time they actually did all sit and color, one of them went off the page and ended up coloring all over the floor itself. Awesome.
Or maybe the problem is the chairs.
In most doctor’s offices there are two chairs available for the patient and two other options that seem way better to any child trapped in a small space. This office was no exception.
The first way more appealing option is the chair that is reserved for the doctor. This chair usually spins, or reclines, or rolls, or maybe if we are really lucky – does all three. This child’s dream come true is way more comfortable (and fun) than the stiff, normal chair I am trying desperately to get them to sit on.
The other item of intrigue is the examination table. You know – the one that is too high for them to easily jump on without assistance. Or, in other words, the table that has just become an obstacle to overcome.
Or maybe it isn’t the chairs at all.
It could possibly be because they know I’m distracted and can’t give them my full attention. Like most kids, mine also have an incredible ability to do the craziest things when they don’t have my full attention. They could be playing happily all day and the minute I try to get on the phone, things fall apart. Maybe it’s the same thing at the doctor’s office.
I’m not really sure what it is, but what I do know is that the next thirty minutes went exactly as I had envisioned when I was palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy in the waiting room.
At one point two of my children decide to play rock, paper, scissors.
Oh good, I think. This can’t be bad. They are entertaining themselves with “rock, paper, scissors, poop.” What? Yep. Oh no. And then, my youngest says, “rock, paper, scissors, gun.” What? Where in the world did that come from? Is it just in his little boy DNA to talk about a gun? We don’t even have a toy gun in the house. Not that I am against them. Honestly, I don’t even know how I feel about them. We haven’t reached that point. He just turned three and hasn’t shown any interest. Until now. At the doctor’s office of all places. “Rock, paper, scissors, gun.” Fabulous.
And all the while, I am trying to have a conversation with both the doctor and nurse who are at their computers asking questions and taking notes. Notes like, “They are still crazy. Continue to send reinforcements.”
I want so badly to concentrate on the doctor’s words, but “rock, paper, scissors, poop” is going on in the background and that’s pretty distracting. Are they not hearing this? They aren’t even cracking a smile. Now I’m stuck wondering if it’s more rude to let them play this game, or to interrupt the doctor to parent them?
I am trapped. It’s the “what’s more rude?” predicament that I find myself in often.
Now, it’s time for one of the kids to hop up on the table. Oh good. This means “rock, paper, scissors, poop” is over.
Wait! What’s happening?
The kids are looking a little wild-eyed. Green light! He said hop up on the table! Whoop! Whoop!
All three kids come charging like a herd of wild animals during a stampede.
Probably not really, but that’s what it feels like in the moment. The lucky child who has been called climbs onto the table. Then the other tries to climb up too. This is now a tangled mess of limbs. Arms and legs are flying everywhere. I have no choice but to help her up. And then the third sees that this is obviously a free for all. Looks to him like the rules don’t apply here – it no longer matters whose name has actually been called. He’s no dummy. The problem is, he is too little to make the climb, so instead he just stands by my side repeating over and over, “Mom, I want up too. Mom, I want up too. Mom, I want up, too.”
I can’t concentrate with this mess, so I ask the doctor if it would be alright if they all just get up on the table. Obviously they already are on the table and I really don’t want to fight this battle. Not now. Please. Say yes.
“Of course,” he says, “but keep your eye on the little one.”
The uncomfortable part of this, is that I am now forced into the doctor’s personal space.
You know how we all have little invisible boxes we travel with. Personal space boxes. These little invisible boxes are to be respected. This is why there is an entire character in Seinfeld devoted to a person who ignores the invisible box. The close talker. Nobody wants to be the close talker.
But I have no choice in the matter. I now am forced to be the close talker.
The doctor is standing by his computer that sits on a podium. The podium is right next to the examination table that all three of my children are now occupying. It is a very, very small room. In order for me to be by my children like the doctor ordered, I have to be sandwiched in the small space between the doctor who is standing by his podium, and the table. What ends up happening is he is asking me a series of questions and I am breathing the answers (literally) down his neck.
Don’t make eye contact. So. Uncomfortable.
This isn’t all that happened during this trip. There is more. Much more. From multiple children laying across each other on the two stiff, uncomfortable chairs – to me saying sternly, “That just isn’t appropriate” for reasons I would rather not explain, and of course the standard sibling arguments that ensue when I’m distracted and can’t give them my full attention.
These are just some of the highlights of this visit.
I did eventually get out of the doctor’s personal space. Thank goodness. The kids did stop playing “rock, paper, scissors, poop,” or gun, or whatever other thing they said that they shouldn’t be saying. I did get my questions answered. The ones that I remembered to ask anyway. Just like Eminem, I go in with a plan and “keep on forgetting what I wrote down.”
How can a person remember anything with “rock, paper, scissors, poop” happening in the background?
But do you know what? We made it through. And as the doctor was leaving, I think he could see the look of defeat in my eyes.
I said to him, “I am sorry for all of the distractions.”
He just looked at me and smiled and said, “I wouldn’t be a good pediatrician if I let kids distract me. Would I?”
Point made, kind sir. Point made. And that is why you are an excellent pediatric pulmonologist.
His encouragement didn’t stop me from sending a text to my husband that said, “I cannot possibly do this again.”
But I will. And, it will be fine. Because they are kids acting like kids. The nurses and doctors smile at me and offer words of encouragement because this is what they see all day long. Kids acting like kids trapped in a tiny room with shiny objects for long periods of time being transformed into wild things who “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws.”
Or maybe my parenting style is everything they say is wrong with our generation of parents. Maybe I’m blaming chairs, tight spaces and tiny objects when I really need to be looking more closely at how I am disciplining my children. Maybe my kids should be expected to sit perfectly in the hard chairs not speaking until being spoken to as they wait patiently for the doctor to call on them. That sure does sound nice.
I don’t know. All I know is that I am trying. So what am I going to do? I am going to do what Eminem suggests, “I’m going to lose myself…in the moment. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
I’m going to keep trying to be the best parent I know how to be. I only get one shot. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. Will I do it perfectly? No way. Will I mess up? Absolutely.
But I will keep trying.
It is my time with these little ones.
And some times are a bit more wild than others.
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