I took my twins to their fifteen-month checkup last week. Alone. I always get nervous when I take them alone, lest an anarchy stronger than the current one take hold.
Luckily, I had it covered, save from them trying to eat their Goldfish and apple slices off a floor that clearly hadn’t been swept, pretty much, ever. One of those things you’d never have the luxury of knowing unless you’re a mother. Of twin toddlers. In a pediatrician’s office.
The nurse came in and did her thing, and I tried my best to entertain the twins with several iterations of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and The Itsy Bitsy Spider, all while catching and quickly disposing of slimy, half-chewed fruit and crackers before they were snapped back up by wet, filthy fingers.
Have I mentioned it was almost ninety degrees that day? So, besides the sweat I normally break when obligated (by law or social mores) to ‘keep my children under control’, I was legitimately sweaty as well. I don’t think that pediatrician’s ever seen me not sweating, now that I think about it. I even sweat when I take the cats to the vet. So squirmy, those little buggers…
My pediatrician’s good. She gets down and dirty with the babies, usually completing her exam before they have the chance to realize they’ve had one. Except. Except for my hyper-aware daughter and her disdain for anything that even remotely inconveniences her. Like an otoscope. She can jam her finger clear up your nose, tearing the delicate nerves inside with her jagged baby nails. She can sink her fingers into the skin of your neck and not let go, like an orphaned koala, but you can’t look into her ears.
As the pediatrician approached, I watched Maggie ball her tiny hands (officially the size of a nine-month old now, per this visit) into fists and wind up to slice the silence with one of her signature wails. I stood up and moved closer in case she did anything crazy, like bite the woman. Hasn’t happened yet, but she is a bit of a loose cannon. The doctor kept her cool as she tried to examine her ears. After full-on wrestling with a very willful child, and Goldfish strewn vainly all around the room, the exam was complete.
And then it came. It always does.
“She’s a drama queen!” the pediatrician exclaimed as she handed my darling daughter back to me.
“I know,” I responded somberly.
“I mean, she, she, that wasn’t even stranger anxiety, she was just,” she leaned in and mouthed, “pissed!”
“She was pissed!” she reiterated.
“I know,” I said again, as I subdued my daughter with more snack foods and tried to put her jumper back on.
We sat for a few minutes between the fairly pleasant visit from the pediatrician and the dreaded portion of the program where I have to hold them down for vaccinations.
We waited a while. I was running out of crackers. The exam room floor was almost completely cleaned by my childrens’ tushes. And then, finally, finally, the nurse arrived with the shots.
She was tall, with dark hair, bangs, and a face full of freckles. She looked down at me on the chair, and sputtered, “She told me to do him first. Do you know why that is? Why would I do him first?”
“Because she’s a drama queen?” I asked innocently.
“Well, she said he was more mellow,” she furrowed her brow.
“He’s definitely more mellow. You’ll see,” I said. “You’ll see.”
After giving my son his shots and managing to calm him enough not to choke on his cracker, I picked up Linda Blair – uh, Maggie – for hers, holding my breath, feeling more sweat crowd out the sweat already covering my face.
She screamed, as I imagined she would, and as she has several times before. But she wasn’t that bad. In my opinion, she hadn’t lived up to her reputation at all.
Once the shots were done, her eyes red and still brimming with tears, Maggie spotted the nurse about to leave the room. She lifted her lilliputian hand and waved, said, “Bye-bye,” to the nurse, and then blew her a kiss. Blew her three, actually.
The nurse melted, let out an involuntary, “Awwwww….” and returned Maggie’s air kisses for about a minute before she left the room for good.
I got them ready, wiped all requisite tears, and began our journey back out into the cold (okay, hot. It was hot) world.
Oftentimes her reputation precedes her, and frequently she lives up to it. Sometimes, though, sometimes she’s not so bad. She can actually be charming.
See, guys? She is human. I think.