Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wonder and Trust

I made my way clumsily through the familiar waiting room door - crying toddler daughter and very soggy blankie hanging over one shoulder, diaper bag and purse slung over the other.  I managed to get signed in without dropping the baby or the stuff, exchanged knowing looks with the receptionist, and caught a few sympathetic glances from the grandmotherly types waiting their turn to see the doctor. Choosing a corner chair as isolated as was possible in the closet-sized waiting room, I settled in and dug into the diaper bag for distractions.  

Books weren't working today.  Neither were keys, toys, juice, animal crackers, Cheerios, or even a self-conscious rendition of "I'd Like to Visit the Moon."  Sitting in one place was just not cutting it, so I had to resort to movement.  After several minutes of pacing back and forth in a three-foot-square space, patting my first born's back as she pulled at her ears and cried and wiped her nose on my shoulder, it was finally our turn.  Holding my daughter with one arm, I reached down with the other to gather our things, then hurried to follow the nurse.  That little bit of forward momentum brought a temporary reprieve in the shrieking as my red-faced sweetheart looked around in surprise to see where we were going.  The silence didn't last long.

The nurse led us to an even smaller examining room, where the crying began again in earnest - hers or mine, I can't exactly recall now...  The nurse shouted the usual questions, and I shouted back answers.  In between, I stood in place, doing the "Mommy sway" we all do to try to soothe the tears.  Somehow, the nurse managed to get my little girl's temperature.  Then she said something about "doctor" and "soon," smiled, and was gone.  Now I had a bit more room to pace and sway and bounce and sing, but it still wasn't working. 

Finally, in breezed Dr. W–, his face a picture of genuine concern as he had me sit in the chair and hold this poor little one in my lap so he could take a look.  She gazed into his blue eyes as he hunched down in front of her and talked and smiled and cooed, and gradually the cries stopped.  She stared at him, mouth open in a little "o," her mostly-brown eyes wide as golf balls.  She reached out to touch his white hair, then grabbed his offered hand.  He looked back at her, glancing up at me every so often, asking questions, all the while using that same sing-song voice that had her entranced.
Finally, he asked her, "Can I look in your ears?"
She shook her head.  "No, no, no!" 

"Oh," he said, "It won't hurt.  I just want to see if there are any bugs and bunnies in there."

She stopped mid-head-shake, then swiveled around to look at me, cupping her hands around her ears.  I smiled down at her and nodded.  She looked back at Dr. W–.

"Don't you want to know if there are any bugs and bunnies in there?" he asked, a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

She slowly nodded and dropped her hands.
"Let's take a look," he said.  All the while, he kept up a running commentary about bugs and bunnies, and how they love to hide in little kids' ears.

My sweet girl's eyes were round with wonder, and she sat perfectly still, letting him check both ears.

He sat back and smiled at her.  "Nope, no bugs and bunnies in there," he said.  "But I'm going to give Mommy some medicine for you to make your ears feel all better.  Is that OK?"

She smiled then, a big, two-toothed grin, and hugged her little knees and fell back against my chest. 

Not a tear in sight.