I’ve been thinking about the little things, and how much they matter. We’ve taken Parker to Urgent Care twice, the ER once, and to the doctor five times since Christmas. Our experiences with the nurses and doctors at each place are so different each time. At one Urgent Care, the physician’s assistant barked at me to “keep him still,” my feverish, hive-ridden baby who was squirming a bit at the approach of a strange woman with a black prod she wanted to stick in his ear. At another Urgent Care, the nurse said, “You guys are doing a great job,” over and over, looking us in the eyes so we were sure to hear him, and was so gentle with Parker that I almost cried.
This morning, I had to take Parker back in to the doctor. He’d had fevers off and on and been rubbing his ears. I had rampant ear infections as a child, and I’m probably paranoid about them because of it. What I’m starting to realize during times like these is that experience trumps self for Parker. Or maybe experience is self. He is ill, and we were in a waiting room surrounded by strange people, but still he wanted to wriggle out of my arms, get down so he could walk and see and touch and encounter. He smiled at everyone who looked his way, waved at bowed heads until they looked up so he could smile. He offered his nibbler to a woman, then snatched it back with a giggle. He peered down at a man on the first floor mixing a dozen sugars into his coffee, shouted AH? AH! but the man was too preoccupied to notice. Parker is filled with joy at life, at everything he’s learning, at everything he’s learned. It is awesome to witness, in the truest sense of the word. I am awed.
We ended up waiting over an hour to see the doctor, well into Parker’s usual naptime, but still he continued on, finding new ways to look at the chair, or rummage through my purse, make funny faces into the mirror. Finally, the doctor came in. As she approached with her stethoscope, Parker tensed. I knew he would probably cry and I tried to explain to him what was going to happen. The doctor stopped and said, “Watch me listen to Mama first?” And put her stethoscope over my heart. I pretended it tickled, that it was fun, and Parker watched her and me very closely. She allowed him to touch the stethoscope, move it between his fingers, and then she tried again. He sat very still, very interested and calm, as she listened to his heart. When she moved to his back, he smiled at her like it was a joke she was telling. When she was finished examining him, I tried to tell her how much it meant to me that she considered how he felt, that she treated him like a person with fears and plans and desires, just like any adult. How she took the time to explain what was going to happen, how she understood that he’d understand. All I got out was “Parker likes to control his own destiny, so thank you for letting him touch your stethoscope first,” and I almost cried saying it.
I often feel perfectly together, and then something small like that reminds me how close to the surface my emotions are. Like a loose thread in a tent. Pull it and the rain comes rushing in. I’m so grateful to people like that doctor, and that nurse, who treat my son like a human, and treat me like a human, because they themselves are so human.