Thirty minutes into what turned out to be a 75 minute wait for the doctor this morning I was wishing that my desire to be a "doctor mom" automatically made me one. I have friends, one mom in particular, who have mastered the ability to treat almost any illness that their children face in the comfort of their home. These women have the confidence to conquer anything from sniffles to vomiting to fevers and even childbirth without worrying about the doctors advice, prescriptions or vaccines. While I hope to one day, I do not yet hold that expertise, as proven by the fact that today's appointment was the third in as many weeks (for the same child).
This is not to say that I'm not an expert in anything, I have quite mastered the challenge of having two small children cooped up in an observation room with nothing to entertain them aside from the corny wallpaper trim they cannot reach, cabinets/drawers they can't open and Doctors stool they can't sit on, spin on, or move.
In past trips to the doctor, when I was attempting to control my feisty strong willed Owen, I found myself anxious and frazzled. Overwhelmed by the stress of expecting him to act like the perfect child and plagued with disappointment when he couldn't meet my expectations, all while also trying to comfort, cater to, and entertain Micah John.
Does this sound familiar to you? If you have a child anything like Owen, then you understand my pain. Fighting him, battling his free will was a constant struggle and often left me so frustrated that I had an even shorter rope of patience . It was freeing to discover that these appointments are in fact manageable. I have survived these indefinite periods of time with very little stress and have even learned a little about my children, and myself, as I've gone along.
The first thing I've learned is not to over think it or over prepare. For instance no matter how much I think I do, I really don't need a backpack chalked full of their favorite toys. Inevitably, no matter how genius I think my selection is, the rattle, toy cell phone, Curious George compilation, or toy car will not hold his attention for more than 2 maybe 3 minutes tops (often he will exhaust the entire contents of my bag in this amount of time). For whatever reason, toys loose their magic when you need them to be their most charming. (I guess that same concept works with kids too, think picture day or family reunion!) My current game plan is to bring my purse (diaper bag if age appropriate), seasonal attire (coats, etc), one small easy to handle snack (something that wont spill or produce a lot of crumbs), and one toy/activity. Yes, you read that right. One toy or activity.
How can this be? How oh how will she entertain him until the doctor arrives?
I determine to have fun. The best way to reduce the stress is to get involved. For me, I found that when I stopped worrying about entertaining him/them and started letting him/them entertain me, the time passed much more quickly and they were much more likely to obey me. As a working mother, these trips to the doctor either eat into my mommy day (I'm blessed with a four day work week) or they are under special circumstances requiring me to take time off of work. It isn't always natural to do, but I have been making a conscious effort lately to cherish every moment that I am blessed to spend with my kids, therefore these doctors appointments are special moments I will never get back. Having this outlook has made them much more manageable. When I'm dreading it before even getting the kids in the car it's not going to turn out well for any of us.
You might be asking yourself "What can one do in a room that is 5ft by 5ft big (if your lucky)?" Well, I learned today that when you let a three year old plan the time, the options are limitless. I discovered a new piece of him today, an imagination that is vast and wide. Here is an exhaustive list of everything we did today and have done recently.
"I spy with my little Eye..."
Follow the Leader - When he suggested this, I must admit I felt a little dumb following him around a tiny circle, but in hindsight it kept him occupied for nearly 10 minutes, I'm not going to look a gift-horse in the mouth and call it dumb! So we played it twice :)
Bracelet Rattle - The baby used a bangle that he found in my purse as a rattle or teether for about 15 minutes last week. Bracelet Spinner - Once the baby got bored Owen took the bangle hostage and began spinning it like a top on the floor. This delighted him, so he did it over and over.
Color Time - After we expended a large amount of energy, I then (and only then) had him sit down and use the activity I brought which happened to be a dry erase board and marker. He was so proud of his picture he showed it to the doctor and was still talking about it as we tucked him in tonight.
Ice Skating - Micah only had socks on, so for a large portion of the time I held his hands and would swing him around in circles and let him dance around like one would do their first time on ice skates. We were both laughing and he loved being "put down" for a while.
Modeling - Eventually I realized I had my camera with me so I began taking pictures of the last 15 minutes of our wait.
As you can see, most of these games were straight from our imagination or bank of games, and a few of them were created using props Owen found on me (scarf and items from my purse). I couldn't have planned these games, they had to come natural, that was what made them so exciting and entertaining, to both of us. What I noticed today was that the ideas and possibilities are endless, when you are 3. That sometimes a simple winter scarf or bracelet is more magical than a toy car or favorite story.
Today's experience was so much more than I had expected it to be. More waiting and more laughing than I could have prepared for. Seventy-five minutes is an exceptionally long wait, even for our doctor. When she arrived Owen candidly declared, as only a child can, "What took you so long?" While we were all excited to see her, none of us were fed up, stressed out, or at a breaking point. As she was leaving she apologized for the wait and I, being carefree and relaxed as I was, was able to sweetly reply "honestly, I don't mind. I'm sure we've been the culprit of other patients having to wait this long before." Which is true, and I'm sure we will be again.
She was really grateful for my outlook, thanking me several times for being patient and understanding. It seemed those few simple words brightened her day. Something I couldn't have done for her if I'd been stressed and counting the minutes. I know that I could pick the other doctor in the office who is also very intelligent and has plenty more experience, but he is very brief and has often diagnosed my boys from the door way, before he's even fully in the room. While the wait would be cut nearly in half, part of my draw to the one we saw today is her camaraderie and experience as a mother. She's been there, recently, and she trusts a mothers instincts, and writes scripts but also says use of them is optional. I find these to be exceptional characteristics in a doctor.
And so, until I've fully mastered and toned the "doctor mom" skills I aspire to have, I will continue to expect the unexpected and let my children entertain me while I wait.