Monday, July 25, 2005

Things You Think About in an Ob/Gyn Clinic

First, the good news: I have the job definitively, contractually, and any other way one could have a job. Heck, I even have keys to the classroom at this point. That's good, but then figuring out what insurance plan I want, whether I want my paycheck in 21 installments or 26, and the list goes on, that's bending my brain a little bit. I'll get over it.

Thursday I got to go with my darling wife to her first obstetrician's appointment. Given that this was the first one I wasn't invited in and sat out in the waiting room; that was interesting. Being the first visit it was longer than a regular visit might otherwise be so I got to spend a lot of time in the waiting area. That is not a problem for me as I always come with some sort of reading material to keep myself occupied and this was no exception, having arrived with a magazine and something I printed out before I left the house. But this is a waiting room in a clinic where by and large the patients are women who are pregnant or often with child in tow. The pregnant women didn't give me much to think about; the kids, though, did.

One pregnant woman came in with her sister and her young daughter. The little girl was about 3 and adorable. She's clearly going to turn into a very lovely young woman. She wanted out of the stroller as soon as her mother parked herself in a seat. Given her freedom she began to wonder around the waiting area, while her aunt took up tracking duty, making sure the little girl didn't get into anything she shouldn't. The girl was clearly very accustomed to getting her way as her responsiveness to both her mother and her aunt wasn't what you'd call very prompt or attentive. She basically ignored what was said until she was pulled away from what she was told not to do, and at that point she'd make her displeasure known in anything but a cute way, in fact she was decidedly irritating to anyone who had to listen to her.

Now this was balanced by a family that had come in, which included mom, dad, and three children. Mom was called in for her appointment and dad took charge, but not in anything like an obvious way inasmuch as his kids seemed to be very well-behaved. He, too, had a daughter, though she was closer to about 8 years old. She will also be a pretty young woman, and a person with a good heart it seems. The younger girl came in and immediately wanted to play with a toy that was near the older girl, which her brother, closer to her age than the 3 year old, had been playing with. The older girl, unasked by anyone, picked up the game and brought it closer to the new arrival so she could play with it.

There was nothing about any of this that especially caught my attention. It's not really fair to compare an 8 year old to a 3 year old, they're both in two different worlds of development and self and "other" awareness. What tripped me over into thinking about what I would do were I the parent of the little girl was something that occurred just as the she was leaving with her mom. Another woman was sitting down a few seats away from me. The little girl was waiting to leave as her mother and aunt were in the process of getting their things together. I could hear the woman rustling some cellophane paper, apparently taking out a candy and unwrapping it to eat. The little girl made a bee line to the woman, having heard what I had and making the association with candy. Her mother saw this and immediately told her daughter, "No, come back here, we're leaving." The little girl didn't listen, and brazenly (for as much as a three year old can be legitimately brazen) stood in front of the candy un-wrapper, looking straight at her, while mom in the background is saying "No." The little girl stayed in place for a good 15 seconds or so and the woman, being like most of us, gave in, handing over whatever it was that she had unwrapped. The mother and the aunt both thanked the women profusely, with what I would imagine was some measure of embarrassment, and scooped up the little girl and headed out the door.

I remember thinking to myself: The mother is going to have a bad life with this kid. The child's behavior to begin with was not in keeping with an example of a well-disciplined child, but then often times something like that can be chalked up to crankiness of whatever. The candy incident though, that to me was telling. If it were my mother the second she said "No" that would have been it, and had I continued to stand there I'd have gotten a bottom slap for doing so, and if indeed the woman had made the effort to pass me a piece of candy it would have been returned immediately, regardless of any protestations from the candy-giver.

In my day, and in all honesty I think it's still an excellent rule of thumb, I was taught that no is no, you listen to what you're told and you do what you're told when you hear it, and you certainly never expect to get away with being selective about what you, and your mother, darn well know you heard. The lesson this mother taught to her daughter was that no doesn't always mean no, that you don't have to necessarily pay attention to your mother when she tells you something you don't want to hear, and if you're brazen enough you'll often get what you want. The last lesson isn't necessarily a bad one, but in combination with the first two it will make for a far more difficult older child and I don't want to even think what sort of teenager and adult can come out of this.

Now in all fairness I've not seen this mother and daughter interact but this one time. But then maybe that's as much as you need to see sometimes. If nothing else it sure and heck got me to thinking --- my guess is that I'll have plenty of opportunity for reflections on child rearing as I sit in the Ob-Gyn waiting room; who'd have thought? I'm feeling enlightened --- actually, between the new job, figuring out where the money's going to go, what needs to be bought, life insurance, saving for college, and on and on, I think I'm feeling something a bit more heavy than enlightenment. Hey, that Navy training will carry me through, but let me tell you, this is some crazy times and I'm paying attention to kids far more than I ever did before.


Blogger she falters to rise said...

I'm glad the job is finally official. I will make sure to send you any cool teaching resources that I stumble upon.

I think the most important thing for you and Feri to remember is that it is OK to get help when you need to. I see so many new parents resisting calling up a maid service or a part time nanny/sitter because it wasn't something our parents did when we were younger or because of the cost. It is necessary for your mental well being, though, that the two of you have some free time and moments of relaxation every so often. Remember to breathe...

8:09 AM  
Blogger James said...

Thanks for the reminder on remembering to breathe --- you can be sure that there are definitely times when I myself lose sight of it. I think Feri, though, manages to take it all pretty much in stride.

You can be sure that we'll be mindful of having some time for ourselves. I appreciate that there were things that our parents did that might constrain our thinking, that said, I also appreciate that we're doing something at a time in our lives that our parents weren't. There's commonality, but it's no way the same and what may have worked for one is not a sure thing to work for the other. We're also able to do better for ourselves than I know in my case my parents were, so that changes perspective, too.

However I look at this it's sure to be a fascinating, and at times somewhat scary, adventure!

10:09 AM  
Blogger James said...

Oh, I almost forgot, thanks for the offer on any cool teacher things --- can never get enough of that stuff!

10:13 AM  

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