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Parenting

In sickness and in health — A view from the pediatrician’s waiting room

Among other things, this week brought a milestone — for Catherine and for me. She won’t like me telling you this, but it was the first time she went in for her annual physical alone.

I’d left the decision up to her, as I have for the past couple of years, and she finally called my bluff.

It’s a good thing. She’s in charge of her body, after all, and should feel comfortable talking with her doctor. The pediatrician called me in at the end to declare all is well.

Still, it left me a little sad to sit out in the waiting room alone.

Well, except for the endless stream of sick kids.

And the Scooby Doo marathon.

Among the many pint-sized patients were three sisters — all of them with strep even though they weren’t complaining of sore throats.

The kid with a broken foot, outfitted with a boot and hobbling on crutches.

The little peanut whose flushed face matched her pink cardigan.

The poor kindergartener whose mom had brought her back because her cold symptoms were worse and she feared pneumonia.

That girl’s sister was perfectly healthy — thank you very much — chatting away, climbing on the play table, asking the office staff to raise the sound on the television and waving to the fish in the fish tank.

And then there was Parker. God love Parker. He must have been about 20 months or so — able to walk and talk, but still in diapers and using a pacifier. He quite obviously was unwell. He moaned. He groaned. He whined and cried, his blond curls bobbing all the while.

Parker’s dad had come straight from work — judging by his tie and suit jacket — but must not be used to entertaining the tyke. The nanny was doing her level best to keep the little guy from melting down, but it was clear to us all that the end was coming. A cup of water helped for a bit — Parker made a grand gesture each time he took a sip of removing his pacifier and resting it on the play table.

But the wordless sidelong glances we adults all sneaked each other were like a cautionary tale.

It all fell apart when the nurse came out and finally called Parker’s name. He threw himself on the floor and howled, “NO!” Dad had to carry him inside where we could hear Parker’s screams through two sets of closed doors. We didn’t see them again; I suspect Dad took the back way out to the parking lot.

Meanwhile,  it was finally Catherine’s turn. I tried to block out the 19th playing of the Scooby Doo theme song; the lime-green Swamp Monster chasing Casey Kasem — I mean Shaggy; and assorted sound effects with a copy of New York magazine‘s story about Mark Zuckerberg. But then I got to remembering how there was a time when we practically lived in this waiting room.

It’s been remodeled since Catherine was small — and I think, frankly, we paid for the work, what with our narrow escape from the winter of endless ear infections and the school year of chronic strep throat that at one point leveled Catherine and me simultaneously.

Not to mention Fifth’s Disease and mono and a whole parade of viruses that had me cooling my heels while a feverish bundle of sick child kept the rest of me extra toasty.

And who could forget the infected spider bite on her foot? We swung by to have it treated on our way to Cape Cod, the car bulging with vacation luggage and beach gear.

Guess all those illnesses did what they were supposed to. We visit the office much less often now.

Thank God!

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About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.

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