Thursday, June 14, 2007

An Apple A Day

If you ever are faced with a choice between laying down in the street and letting your husband drive over you with a minivan or taking 4 children to a doctor's appointment, go for the van. It can't possibly be as painful as our trip to the doctor was today.

I don't know which is the cause and which is the effect: Did my day go so badly because I started with a nightmarish trip to the doctor, or did the nightmarish trip cause me to be in a foul mood the whole rest of the day? I'm not sure which came first, but this is the worst day I've had since Darcey was born.

I'm pooped. Darcey's a good sleeper, but I'm still not getting quite enough. And even with the generous sleeping-in that Ryan is allowing me, I'm just beat. You can tell my good days from my bad ones by my expiration time. On a bad day, a switch flips in my brain at about 4:30 p.m. and I start yelling about anything that people could possibly do to offend me. On a good day, I hold it off until 5:30.

Today I could barely force myself out of bed by 9:15 to feed Darcey and dress myself before leaving for her 10 a.m. appointment. Ryan corralled the other kids into clothes and shoes and dealt with the inevitable whining and complaining from Noah in particular about having to go. Brad would have joined him, but Ryan offered to tape the tv show he was going to miss during the appointment, and he had no more complaints. ("Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman" is the tv show of such great importance. Which was repeated today at 4:30.)

The office is all of 5 minutes from our house, if that long, so naturally we were late. Being rushed always makes kids do things slower, kind of like when you're leaving a parking spot at the mall a week before Christmas and the vulture is there waiting for your spot, holding up an entire lane of traffic behind him - always makes me take just a tiny bit longer to make sure my packages are stowed just so and darn if doesn't take an extra few seconds to get my stroller folded down. So if I've earned bad karma from making the parking lot vultures wait, it's coming back to get me via my children who take extra time gathering all of their special toys and buckling their seat belts when I'm in a rush.

As far as waiting rooms go, this one is pretty roomy, with seats for about 40 people and lots of open space. Off to one side is a short kids table and chairs. In this massive room there are 4 other patients waiting to be seen. I go to the reception desk and start to fill out new patient paperwork for Darcey while the other kids go to the kids table. They are quiet, and it takes me a minute to look over and realize that Noah and Zack are running around the table instead of sitting at it. But they aren't near a single other person, and they are virtually silent, so I'm grateful. Until a lady behind the desk says, "Boys, you need to sit down now and I'll turn on the tv for you."

The hackles raise, venom fills my mouth as I try to hold back a snarl. If anyone has the right to reprimand my kids for something inconsequential, it's me. I've earned that right. You, lady, will have them out of your hair in about 2 minutes, I have to take them home with me! I busy myself with signing the "I promise not to sue you if you damage my child" waiver I've been handed and try not to glare at my new foe.

We don't wait long until we are called into the exam room, which I can see is going to be a problem the second we walk in. Four of us, two chairs. Plus the doctor's special spinning chair with wheels. This is when it hits me that I really, really should have thought ahead and arranged for someone to watch at least half of my children. I knew this was going to be bad.

And it was. I let Zack and Noah sit on the chairs while Brad and I stood. The nurse checked Darcey's head circumference (35 cm - 25th percentile), length (21 inches - 73rd percentile) and we left the room to have her weighed (8 lbs 4 oz - 50th percentile and a whole pound heavier). When I got back into the room, Noah and Zack were fighting over the spinning chair and Brad was sitting in a regular chair. Their yelling got kind of loud as I told them both that neither of them could have the chair, and the nurse came back to close the door. I wanted to crawl under the chair from embarrassment, but unfortunately the under-the-chair space was now occupied with Noah and Zack, where the bickering hasn't stopped. Now they are fighting over a double-decker bus toy that Brad brought. When I stop that, the whining for fruit snacks starts. No, no fruit snacks. I realize I've got my ipod and I ask who wants to watch Night at the Museum. All three do, but Brad bows out when he realizes he's going to have to share with both of the others. So he gets kicked out of the chair, Noah and Zack sit and I hand them the ipod and earbuds (one ear per kid) as the doctor walks in.

As if it wasn't crowded before, I climb off the table where I had been sitting and move over against the wall. We chat for a few minutes while the kids behave with some decorum. Temporarily, of course. The doctor had to ask Zack to get off of his chair so that he could sit at the computer. (What the heck, am I just shirking my parental responsibility today? No, I think of it as choosing my battles.) Within a few minutes, the doctor was done and the nurse was on her way back in to take some blood. As soon as the doctor left the room, the whining started again. Now I'm holding a crying baby while the nurse squeezes about a pint of blood from Darcey's heel and trying to get Zack to put the gel-filled wrist rest back on the keyboard tray and telling Noah that yes, we'll leave in a few minutes, and no, I don't know how long a few is, just whenever we're done.

Even leaving is fraught with complications as Zack takes off and I'm yelling at him not to go into the parking lot and Brad is chasing after him. He catches Zack, and we switch so that Brad carries Darcey's car seat to the van while I drag Zack over and buckle him in while he cries about the binky and blankie that I forgot to bring.

All of this takes but 45 minutes. It felt like eternity. Or at least I thought so at the time. Now that I'm looking at it from the vantage point of the end of the day, those first 45 minutes of whining, complaining, arguing, teasing, yelling, and crying were but a prelude to the rest of the day. It seems as though all of the kids' friends knew the kind of mood the boys were in and decided to stay away, which meant that I had an entire day of mopey kids that had, and I quote, "nothing to doooo" (you have to read that with a whine in your voice, you know, kind of going up and down). At one point I made them turn off the television for a whole, entire hour, which is tantamount to asking them to not breathe for an hour (although that's quieter...) and they actually ended up playing Legos together.

Whenever I tell Ryan that I don't know what to write about, he always says, "Write about what a great husband I am!" (To which I reply, "But it needs to be longer than three sentences!") Anyhow, Ryan came home and saved the day. After a dinner of frozen pizza (which Brad balked at because he doesn't care for that brand of pizza) Ryan took all three boys to see the movie "Surf's Up" and left me home with just the baby and a quiet house. I did some dishes, watched some tv, swept the Maryland category on Jeopardy and kicked all the 5th-graders butts to prove that I am smarter than them, and all around mellowed out. By the time they got home, happy and talking about the movie, I was able to actually be glad to see them again! And Brad's sulking over having to miss his PBS show tonight in order to take a bath was almost ignorable.

So now it's 9 p.m. and Ryan is holding Darcey, the other three boys went to bed without a fuss, and the house is calm and quiet. It was rough while I was dealing with it, but somehow at the end of the day, when it's all over, it doesn't seem as bad as all that. I guess I'd forgo the minivan treatment after all. (But I'm still not taking 4 kids to the doctor's office ever, ever again.)

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