Doctor, doctor, gimme the news


Here’s the song reference.

Yesterday brought annual checkups for the tribe; we are blessed with a wonderful pediatrician who is sympathetic to our desire to only have to make one appointment, and thus allows us to bring all the kids in at the same time, usually first thing in the morning.  Because Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man and Baby Guy have been blessed with such good overall health, we had not seen the good doctor since the last round of annual checkups in late July of 2012; it does, however, bear mentioning that said doctor is wonderfully reliable about returning phone calls and answering questions about routine, minor afflictions by telephone.  His theory is that he doesn’t want a child whose immune system is busy fighting a simple cold exposed to a child who has something more severe.  In case you hadn’t already guessed, we adore him and his entire staff, who are unfailingly kind and good-humored in their dealings with our family.

We had a merry time getting all four kids weighed and measured before the girls went in to the hallway, separately, for their eye tests.  Bugaboo “forgot” the alphabet in her excitement over being at the doctor’s office, and thus was given the eye chart with symbols on it for her examination (which she passed with flying colors).  The same chart, clearly emblazoned with the label “Kindergarten Eye Chart” remained on the wall when Beanie danced out for her own exam, and she glowered at it as the nurse and I cajoled her to tell us the names of the different shapes printed thereupon.

Beanie’s vision tested at about 20/100, which would indicate an urgent need for corrective lenses.

We finished all the little tests and questions with the nurse, who struggled to keep from laughing at the silly antics of Mr. Man and Baby Guy, then bundled four children into little gowns and waited for the doctor, who we already knew had two urgent sick cases that morning (because we had seen them in the “sick child” section of the waiting room).  We’d brought our usual assortment of spiffy reading materials for the tribe, along with the song catalogs we carry in our heads, and were able to distract everyone, at least temporarily, from the fun of climbing onto the exam table with its crinkly paper and sliding back off, only to quickly scamper back up the foam steps for another go.  Gowns were tied and re-tied several times, and Baby Guy discovered his size relative to the gown was sufficiently small to allow him to cover his feet with its hem, facilitating a sort of skating on the linoleum floor.

Miraculously, the good doctor had no x-rays to order when he arrived in the room.  Mr. Man met him at the door; actually, to be more accurate, Mr. Man positioned himself at the opening of the door as soon as he saw the handle start to turn.  Being a pediatrician, Doc is in the habit of looking down and around the corner before fully opening doors or stepping into the room, and thus saw a somber-faced three-year-old boy staring up at him.

“Well, good morning!  May I come in, please?”

Mr. Man grabbed the edge of the door and opened it to allow Doc entry.  “Yesh.  You can come in now.”

How that poor man keeps his composure around our tribe as well as he does will always be a mystery to me.  He generally ends up laughing uncontrollably at least twice during any of our well-child visits, which generally last about an hour.  It’s definitely a mutual admiration society.  After checking all four of them from stem to stern, he pronounced all four healthy, hearty, and hilarious, assuring Manie and I that the only cause for watchfulness we should have is the tendency of youthful imaginations to fail to understand the physics of flight – in other words, watch out, because sooner or later one of them will decide to play a flying superhero in spite of his or her lack of actual superpowers.

As he looked over the nurse’s notes, he frowned when he came to the results of Beanie’s eye test, and commented to us, “She needs to go see the eye . . .” before trailing off as he heard her reading aloud from her Avengers storybook.  With a genuinely puzzled look on his face, he looked at the notes, then at the typeface in the book she was reading, then at me.

“Yeah, Doctor, about that.  Can we step into the hall for just a moment?”

“Absolutely.”

“Hey, Beanie, come with us for a sec, please.”

After fending off a determined effort by Mr. Man to join his big sister, Mommy, and the doctor in the hallway, I asked Doc, “Could you put her where she should stand for the eye test, please?”

His countenance remained slightly confused as he guided Beanie to the appropriate spot.

I walked over to the eye chart and switched the eye charts, removing the one with the offending “Kindergarten” designation and replacing it with the regular eye chart.  With my back to my daughter (because I did not think I would be able to keep a straight ace in a matter of seconds), I pointed to the next-to-last line on the chart and called over my shoulder, “Okay, Beanie, can you tell Doc what these letters are?”

Without hesitation, she read the entire line, then read the one below it without being asked.

I heard a muffled snort emanating from the general direction of our pediatrician, then a slightly strangled, “Good job, Beanie, why don’t you go back in with Daddy and your brothers and sister and get dressed?”

“Okay!”  I heard the exam room door slam, then turned around to chat with the good doctor, who was clearly stifling a laugh as he inquired, “I’m pretty sure you can explain what just happened.”

“I sure can.  She read the word, ‘kindergarten’ on the other eye chart.”

“And she’s very proud of being in first grade, isn’t . . .” He couldn’t finish the sentence, as he was doubled over, elbows on his knees, laughing so hard no sound could emerge.  The nurse, having overheard this exchange, starting giggling at her desk.

When he finally recovered the power of speech, Doc clapped me on the shoulder and exclaimed, “Good luck and God bless you!  I love starting a day with all of you!”

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for healthy, happy little blessings, and for access to a doctor who helps us keep them that way.  Please bless his hands and heart with gentleness, and favor him with kindness from all those his compassion touches.  As we train up Your blessings, grant us all eyes to see those whom You have blessed differently, and the grace of hearts that yearn to offer authentic help and friendship to all of them.  We would teach them, Lord, not to mock or abuse the gifts You have given them by pretending they do not exist because they feel they’ve been offered an insult, but at all times and in all ways to offer You thanks by using those gifts for Your purpose.

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