Doctoring Empathy

My eldest is starting pre-school on Tuesday. I completely forgot that school-kids had to have TB tests so was forced to schedule a test last minute with an office I don’t normally use.

I enter the office, one of the staff must be from someplace way-the-hell-away from Alaska, because it had to be like 100+ degrees inside and it was a comfortable 50 or so outside with an unusually bright fall sun and a soft breeze. I’d have given away a Klondike bar to go to the park and finish reading Game of Thrones. Now this lobby, that is supposed to be a pediatrician’s office, has a broken water foundation, no books, no toys, just some medical product magazines, a muted TV, and a static filled radio playing opera music to the heat waves. In the center there is this massive square table. If you have toddlers, you know that placing a table in the center of the room and surrounding it by chairs is like demanding they run in circles around it giggling loudly, especially when you don’t offer them any other productive option but to make a broken water foundation shoot water.

I’m not one of those moms that make you question whether or not she is deaf and blind in public, no, I sternly explain that the doctor’s office is not a play place. My older toddler actually repeats me super loud like an actor making sure everyone hears and sees his fabulous recanting of mom’s words. I then place one kid in my lap wrap my arm around him so I can still fill-in the ridiculous medical form I was given after I’d already sat there about 20 minutes waiting and use my other hand to hold on to my other child. Both actually sit quietly as a result—which is a miracle in itself–and I manage to complete the paperwork with penmanship better than a kindergartner.  Now, I’m 37 weeks pregnant. I look like a toothpick stuck through a tomato and I’m sick to boot. I am not dragging two 40lb-toddlers a whole 5 feet to avoid the chance of 30 seconds of misbehaving, any idiot can see I am making an effort to keep my kids happy in this hellhole of an office with unusually long wait times for being damn near empty, so I leave the boys sitting in their chairs and go to give the receptionist my form.

She’s this how-the-hell-did-you-get-this-job at your age young girl, like she had to have been about 16 and looked like she was dressing in her mother’s clothes. Naturally, the moment I turned my back both boys resumed making circles of the table. The child takes my form and then, I quote, says through her gum, “Lady, you’re going to have to control your kids in our office.”

(Artists rendition of bump-it hair)

I couldn’t do anything but stare at her a bit dumbfounded mentally fanaticizing about grabbing her by her bump-it styled hair, pulling her through the window, and closing that sliding glass shield of ignorance and inconsideration on her neck until she became unconscious. At this point there was one, I am serious, one other person in the lobby and she was a little old lady making cute-faces at my blond spawn as they ran in circles. The lack of empathy some people have for parents is just…I don’t have a word for it, and I have many words for those people.
I’ll admit, I’ve been where I assume the barely-hit-puberty receptionist thought she was, staring at a parent not even trying to control their children and thinking to myself, Jesus, why didn’t anyone explain to you what birth control was? But you know, if you try to understand a story from the last few pages you’ll likely not know what the hell you’re talking about. All parents have those days where their kids have just pushed them off the I-don’t-give-a-fuck cliff or maybe they are trying and you just don’t hear them whispering death-threats under their breathe. Either way, a little empathy and a strong dose of mind-your-own-business goes a long way in not making somebody elses bad day far worse.

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