The old lady at the doctor’s
Wednesday March 26th 2008, 10:59 am
Filed under: Life

flowering pear tree starting to leaf outBeen awhile since the fingerpuppets from Peru made an appearance on the blog. I replenished the supply in my purse on impulse yesterday, just before I headed on over.

I’d called first. Could I borrow 30 seconds of his time, and when would I most not be getting in the way? We set a time. I came early. I wanted it to be at his convenience.

I’d dropped off that scarf for Dr. V a few weeks ago, but, as I explained to him yesterday, after blogging about Jim’s family driving six hours round trip to thank the medic/ski patrolman in person, I felt I ought to drive the six miles across town to thank him in person. When he’d spoken to our lupus group, he’d given me infinitely valuable information I’d needed to know, and it had made a difference. My eye doctor’s nurse had told me to put drops in my dry eyes, but I’d shrugged it off; mild discomfort didn’t bother me. Part of ordinary life. Nobody had ever drawn the connecting line for me between that and how my cornea had simply torn one day two months ago. Oh! Dr. V did. Drops it is. I owed him, bigtime.

Californian snowdrifts–flowering pear petalsHe came out, we spoke just a moment; yes, I was the one that had dropped off the Carlsbad scarf. He smiled warmly, and said his daughter loved it. I chose not to ask him her age: I could picture a fourteen-year-old showing off to her friends a cool handdyed scarf knit by the actual designer, and I could picture a four-year-old playing dress-up. Either one would be happy with it. Either one would make me happy, being the mom of four myself, but I knew he wouldn’t know that and that he might feel put on the spot if she were indeed at the dress-up stage, so I simply said, “Cool!” And meant it. She liked it! Hey Mikey!

handknit fingerpuppets from PeruI opened my purse before taking my leave and gave him a small handful of those fingerpuppets. You’ve heard my spiel here before about the womens’ cooperative in Peru, the knitters putting food on their tables by making these, how I carry them around for crying babies met along the way and how easy it is to make them and their parents and everybody in a waiting room happy–everybody wins.

I told him, these were for cheering up small crying patients. He was charmed.

I didn’t take his time to tell him my own crying-baby-at-the-doctor story:

I was a young mom. My older son was pitching an all-out inconsolable, screaming, kicking fit, as only a two-year-old can do. He’d climbed onto the bottom shelf of a large coffee table at the doctor’s, a nice spot where he couldn’t damage anyone or anything, and went at it. I tried my best to comfort him, but he would have none of it, and I finally thought, well, he’s loud, but he’s not hurting anything.

An old woman watched, horrified, got up, came over to me, and declared, in a hissy fit to match my son’s, “That is the worst-behaved child I have ever seen in my life!” and left.

I sat there open-mouthed, speechless. But I got a rare chance that day: as we were leaving the clinic, she was sitting waiting for a prescription, and we were going to have to go past her anyway to reach the front door. I had by then had quite a bit of time to calm down myself, and I was sad for her at the fear I saw in her face as I walked up to her, my small children in tow.

I explained that my son (he was very tall for his age even then, and people were forever thinking he was older than he was) was two, and that I had been taking him back to the surgeon who had taken him away from his mommy and hurt him. And he knew it.

That was all. I turned away. I figured she just needed to know the context, and to see that I wasn’t mad, or she would stew all day, and why be burdened with that? I’ve got to admit, though, it felt good to tell her off, however nicely.

Going out the door seconds later, a middle-aged man I had never seen before nor noticed upstairs brushed past me, getting my attention, and he turned back to me and said, “I saw the whole thing. You were justified.” My eyes went wide–I had no idea!…Who?!… Someone out there who’d been a parent, who saw, who understood, and who took the time to make me feel better.

And in his honor and memory, whoever he is out there, I carry those fingerpuppets around for crying children. And remembering that surgeon, I gave some to Dr. V.

My original supplier has disappeared, but there are plenty to be found via Google or Ebay middlemen, still very inexpensive.

And everybody wins. Heck, I’ve given a few by now to little old ladies in waiting rooms.

12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Granddaughter Sasha was one to cry something fierce. We were in a grocery store in Hazleton Pennsylvania of all places, when her 18-month-old self began crying. We could see no reason for it. As I took her out of the store, embarrassed, a woman older than myself passed by saying “Someone’s tired.” We got into the car whereupon Sasha fell asleep. Sometimes the kindness of strangers is so wonderful!

Comment by RobinM 03.26.08 @ 1:41 pm

Josey was never a tantrum thrower. However my sister was she screamed and threw fits. I’ve been told that at one point I asked my dad to pull the car over so I could “throw baby Karisa in the trashcan” Iwas 4 at the time :-)Those finger puppets mighta saved my 4yr old self a few earaches LOL! I think thats a great Idea for Dr Offices and other higher stress waiting areas.
Have A Nice Day!

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 03.26.08 @ 4:41 pm

Wow. Flashback to a very tired Chris, also very tall for his age, who had to be carried kicking and shouting, out of the mall by his Dad. Chris, dramatic to the end, started reaching out to strangers, shouting “Help me”! Gil was sure that someone was going to think he was kidnapping Chris! Aren’t kids something?

Comment by Bev 03.26.08 @ 4:55 pm

Thank you on your nice comment. and I’m sure Elijah will punish me… But I’m the one with the cuddles, food and alike, so he’ll have to crack eventually… 🙂

Comment by Juliana 03.26.08 @ 5:45 pm

I love finger puppets :-}
I found a set of Hindu God Fingerpuppets, they are always a hit :-]
I like Ganesh the best, I think.
My favorite trick for crying kids is to turn my face into an automated toy. I push my nose, and my cheeks pop out filled large with air, I touch my chin and my cheeks suck in to make a fish face, I pull my right ear, and my left cheek fills up, and so forth. it doesn’t take long before they want to push my nose, etc for themselves. I think it amuses the grown ups, too.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 03.26.08 @ 5:53 pm

Aw. This made me cry for so many differnt reasons!!! I related to the rude woman AND to you. I had to search for this, but I hope you’ll read it and then you’ll understand…

Comment by Momo Fali 03.26.08 @ 5:55 pm

Ah, kids. Aren’t they fun? I have NEVER berated anyone for their kids behaviors. The only ones that really bothered me are parents that let their kids run wild in inappropriate places. I remember having to catch many kids swinging on the hanging racks when I worked at a clothing store. They looked just like swings to the kids. I never scolded them as it wasn’t my place. I would just bring them back to the parent and warn them about hazards of the racks. Out of all those times, only one parent thanked me and told her kid not to play on them any more. Most of the rest of the parents just gave me dirty looks and usually left the store in a huff. Even though I hadn’t said anything offensive to them, they seemed to resent the fact that I had done anything with their kid. Seems to me they really should have cared more about their child getting injured. Oh, well. I always felt better when no one got hurt, but I will always wonder why some of the parents got kind of mad. Very strange.

Comment by Tracy J 03.26.08 @ 11:03 pm

I’ve learned to quell my impatience similarly; you just never know what that annoying person is going through. The moment our lives intersect do not tell me anything close to the whole story. I was taught YEARS ago that judgement is not mine to make, and your post is an excellent reminder that things are rarely what they seem.

Comment by Channon 03.27.08 @ 7:27 am

The old woman was also at the doctor- perhaps she was herself sick/stressed/in pain and consequently less patient with unpleasant noise than she might have been otherwise? (I think most people find crying children distressing- we’re wired to find it unignorable.)

A pity she had to make your day more difficult though- the hand puppets are a lovely idea. Keeping the kids distracted is a win for everyone.

Comment by RobinH 03.27.08 @ 11:16 am

Very good point, Robin. Although, in this case, she’d come in for a hearing test with the audiologist–same waiting room. Still–getting used to the idea of hearing aids is stressful for a lot of people. (I always want to tell them why mine are so wonderful and why they’ll be glad they have them.)

Comment by AlisonH 03.27.08 @ 11:26 am

I used to be one of those people that couldn’t believe that people can’t “control their kids.”

Then I had my own.

Comment by Amanda 03.28.08 @ 6:51 pm

Only in Cambridge, MA: My husband had our oversized two year old in the supermarket for their weekly shopping time. Peter had a tantrum in the cart. I think my husband ignormed him. A woman came up them and said, “I’m a psychologist, maybe I can help.” My husband is a psychiatrist.

Comment by Carol B 03.29.08 @ 4:45 am

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>