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Overriding Disappointment with Joy

26 August 2014
Photo Credit: Tyler

Photo Credit: Tyler

I was prepared to be disappointed.

We were headed to the Man Cub’s 18 month check-up, and after a friend’s shockingly bad experience with the same pediatric office, my defenses were up.

And rightly so.

The reception area needed a good sweep. The pile of plastic kids’ toys were fairly dingy – old and worn, broken or harboring dead batteries, pages faded and torn.

I know better than to expect to actually be seen by any doctor at or near my appointment time, but we waited for at least a half-hour and in that time I overheard the receptionist double-book the doctor for the following week because the parent on the other end of the phone didn’t want to see a nurse practitioner and didn’t want to wait a month.

When we finally were led back to an exam room, and all the usual measurements were taken, we waited another half-hour for the nurse practitioner to show up.

In a small exam room full of things that an energetic toddler wants to, but shouldn’t, get into – a dresser full of supplies, a sink, a garbage can, etc. Two chairs, a stool, and a mural on the wall do not keep a one-and-a-half year old entertained for a half hour.

Man Cub was getting irritable, and I was fuming. We’d been there for over an hour. Why close us in a tiny exam room with no toys if no one is ready to see us? How many time slots got double-booked today? Could no one be bothered to stick her head in and at least tell us it would just be 10 more minutes? 5 minutes? 20 minutes? “We’re really sorry, but here’s what happened …”?

The boy was, by now, loudly protesting his confinement, and as I perfectly agreed with his sentiment, I made only very feeble attempts to shush him. 

Finally there was a knock, behind which appeared a pretty, young Indian woman flowing with apologies, excuses, and regrets.

“I’m so, so sorry. They double-booked me, and some of these poor kids are just not feeling well and cranky … and I’m so, so sorry. I hate it when they double-book us. It’s just been one of those days, you know? Gosh, I’m so sorry …”

She was obviously flustered, and I knew she was fairly new to the office. I sighed a probably very insincere-sounding assurance, and we turned to the toddler who had grown quiet in the wake of this sudden flurry of activity.

“Well hello! Aren’t you a handsome thing?”

Aww, you probably say that to all the toddlers whose mothers just waited an hour for a routine check-up.

If she was flattering him (or me), he didn’t care. He thrust his hands out and jabbered off something very enthusiastically.

She looked at me. I shrugged.

We went over the usual questions and inspections, and as he showed off and tried to engage her in conversation – sometimes casually, but at least once on some very serious topic – she unwound. She asked me to sit him down, and he sat himself down. She asked if we could lay him down, and he laid down. She told him she was going to look in his ears, and he showed her where they were – and then the eyes. (And then the guns and the six-pack, of course.)

When she slide him off the table to watch him walk, they played tag in the tiny exam room, and when she took a minute trying to find his second testicle he giggled and tried to push her hands away – which made her giggle, which made him laugh, which made her laugh.

I could have left the room and neither one of them would have noticed.

“You are something else.”
“Look at you! You’re such a character.”
“You’re so funny! He’s so funny … How are you so funny?”

By the end of our check-up, her shoulders had relaxed, her movements had smoothed, her voice was calm, and her spirit was quiet. He was showing off some of his dance moves and she laughed, “Oh you made my day. I wish you could just stay, and I’d come hang out with you between appointments.”

And I realized for the sixty-seventh time that my toddler is a better human than I am.

I was frustrated before I’d walked in the door, based on someone else’s frustration. I didn’t know the receptionist, or the nurse, or the nurse practitioner – I didn’t consider their stories or the kind of day they were having. I didn’t even ask. I showed up silently demanding that someone make me happy, and never once thought about how I could be the voice of peace or joy that turned someone else’s bad day around.

Man Cub didn’t think about it either, of course, he just did it, ’cause that’s what he does. He helps when he can and he shares what he knows and he runs when he walks and he dances when he wants. He gets that people are awesome, and he challenges me to get beyond myself.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Raynna permalink
    26 August 2014 9:54 AM

    Beautifully written and love your heart Lex!

  2. 26 August 2014 11:36 AM

    Thats our precious little Niah, How God is already using him. I agree with Raynna beautiful words. Blessings and much love. Grandma Bonnie

    • Lex permalink*
      27 August 2014 10:10 AM

      Thanks ladies. He makes it easy. 😉

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