posted Tue, 21 Jun 2005
In my long wait at the otolaryngologist’s office yesterday (OK, it’s an ENT, but I just love that I know that word – otolaryngologist), not only did I have time to read “From Good to Great,” (start to finish) and write yesterday’s post, I also was able to observe a lot of human behavior. Mostly of people who seemed to have arrived after I did but were getting to see the doctor before me. Which was unfair. Which annoyed me greatly.
I was very impressed with a woman who had two young daughters, Sarah and Lauren. I knew which one Lauren was because she had a name tag stuck to her back. Sarah was about five; Lauren was three. They were fighting over the train set in the waiting room. Mom never lost her patience. “Look, Sarah. Here are three pieces for you.”
“But Lauren has the one I want!” she wailed.
Meanwhile, Lauren had crawled under the train tracks to get a book. Now that she was no longer interested in the train, Sarah wasn’t, either.
Mom tried to distract them.
“Come sit by me and let’s read a book quietly.”
“Fairies!” screamed Lauren.
“Shhh,” said mom.
One of the old ladies said, “Ah remember when mine were that age…”
Fortunately, most of the patients were older and hard of hearing. I myself was there for an inner ear problem that is causing occasional deafness. I was not bothered by the girls. I don’t get bothered – much – by unruly children if it’s clear that the parent is making an effort to discipline them. If the kid is throwing a tantrum because mom is being a good parent, I am silently cheering her on.
“Stick to your guns,” I want to say. “Keep up the good work! We’re behind you!” It’s when the parents cave that I get annoyed. I can put up with some public messiness if I know it will yield a good citizen in the end.
Sarah started to pitch a fit, so mom was trying to calm her. Lauren saw her chance. She ran in between the backs of the two couches that were pushed together and crouched down. A minute later, mom looked around. “Lauren?” she asked. She stood. When she saw Lauren, she ran and grabbed her. “Come on,” she said. “We’re going to the potty.”
“But I was pooping!” Lauren shouted.
“I know what you were doing,” her mother sighed.
“I don’t want to go to the potty,” Lauren screamed.
“Come on, Sarah,” mom said as she gathered her purse and other mom supplies.
“No, Mom, I don’t want to go,” Sarah whined.
That’s where I would have snapped. This woman was either a saint or on drugs. She just grabbed Sarah’s hand and said calmly, “We’ll come back here in a little bit.”