The other day i was in clinics, and in strode this pregnant woman with her gorgeous one year old. He sat calmly in his pram, eating the peeled oranges he was given whilst the Obstetrician went through the progress of his mum’s pregnancy. Occasionally, he peeked shyly at me and when i smiled in return, he hid behind the cover of his pram.
When his mum stood up to get on the examining bed, she turned his pram around to face her, “so he does not get too angry,” she whispered. I looked at her curiously.
And then all hell broke loose.
The blue-eyed fair-headed child became an angel of terror.
Barely had the woman taken a step past the pram, he opened his mouth and gave a blood-curling scream. I stared at him.
“Oh darling, i am just here,” the mother soothed.
It didn’t work. He went on his siren screams without stopping.
“Oh Sweetpea, it is ok,” my consultant reiterated.
In the part of my mind that had mentally detached itself from this madness unraveling in front of me, i wondered why people like to tag others with such sickening terms as “Sweetpea”, “Honey” and “Sugar”. I had my fair share of these labels on me, and i always had to refrain from cringing visibly.
The kid did not cease in his shrieks. I wondered whether he was shedding crocodile tears – i know, irrelevant thoughts, but the background noise was overwhelming my defences of calm. I was forced to play a more proactive part. I took a step closer to this creature that was threatening to bust my eardrums off (i swear my hearing has gone down several decibels), tapped him on his shoulder and said, “Dude.” No effect. I sighed inwardly, knelt down and attempted to communicate with this child who was behaving more and more autistic by the minute. He reminded me of the ADHD-afflicted children i encountered in previous clinics, and those kids scared the hell out of me. There were no personal boundaries, no limits, and seemingly no way to stop their destructive behaviour. As you can see, there is no hope of me ever becoming a Pediatrician (and the prospect of having to spend at least a few years dealing with children like these before being able to subspecialize in Neonatal Medicine, is the one thing that is making me really hesitate about this career pathway).
The child started wriggling and squirming in his pram. It was then i realized he was not strapped in. Bad Parenting Mistake #1. If you are going to put your kid in the pram, do it safely. All sorts of accidents are waiting to happen. True enough the kid nearly fell out of the pram. I caught hold of him because i anticipated it. His mother on the other hand, had a very bad fright. The bottle the child was welding in his hand had slammed to the ground with a loud thud. The mum probably thought it was her kid’s head. Probably would have been if she continues being so careless.
I know i am harsh. But seriously, i do not like parents who do not control their kids properly. In this modern era, i feel that parenting has become all cushy-cushy and their offspring are all morphing into the spawn of the devil. I do not advocate physical beatings, but i would certainly like parents to have firmer parental controls in place and to teach their children proper manners. If you don’t start young, you will be contributing to society’s woes in a decade.
Back to this child. Up till that point, i was loathed to touch this child further. I don’t mind children, but i don’t really like carrying someone else’s child. It’s just a boundary issue to me. If i have a kid, i don’t think i want just any stranger picking him/her up either. But clearly i may be a bit neurotic in this matter. Also i did not bend down to pick this child up. I gestured for him to reach up, only half-expecting him to obey, but he did, and i was surprised. He was also very light. He must be lighter than my dumbbells, which is a bit of a revelation for me.
I carried the child, tried to pacify him, tried to distract him, but all to no avail. All those bloody oranges he was guzzling on were certainly being put to good use in this child’s Krebs cycle. Argh. And i had to constantly adapt to this child’s writhing movements as he attempted to escape my hold. Unfortunately, i have sufficient practice with younger cousins to be maintaining the upper hand.
At this point, my consultant who was doing the gynecological exam on the lady asked for my help. Folks, let me tell you my role in this clinic. My responsibility is to be the one doing the vaginal exam under the careful supervision of my consultant so i can be learning and ready to do the same when i start my job proper. Unfortunately, this kid was using up my precious opportunities to learn and in that respect, i was feeling a little peeved.
“Hey Spud, can you get me the vaginal swab in the drawer please.”
I nodded and was about to reach for the equipment when i realized i still had the maniac child in my arms. And so, i had to manevour this child, retrieve the swab pack, opened the sterile pack gingerly ensuring this kid does not get any of his saliva or grubby fingers into the pack, break the swab open and handed it over to my consultant. I was struggling. I could just see it in my mind’s eye. And in that possibly 20 seconds where i pulled off this feat, i remembered thinking very clearly to myself, this is not in my job scope. I felt like a babysitter. Not happy. I bet if i were a male medical student, i would be expected less to cajole and pacify this mad child.
Finally the examination was over, and the patient was left to dress herself. The consultant reached out for the child and i gladly handed him over like some sort of Christmas package. The consultant has a child of a similar age and it shows because she immediately started rocking the child but it didn’t work. This child must have been going on his tirade for a good 15 minutes. He only stopped when his mum took him back. There was a residual ring in my ears after that. Maybe i should apply for workplace hazards compensation or something. I know that separation anxiety starts in children of this age, but i am wondering if this kid’s anxiety was a bit on the pathological side. I mean, to the extent that you will not be consoled? I was also under the impression that his mum was secretly pleased that he was so attached to her – another Bad Parenting Mistake #2. You are encouraging bad behaviour and negative character traits in this child. How can people not see what they are setting themselves up for??
Anyway, after the patient left, the consultant remarked that that particular consultation was a little too loud. In fact, the nurses who were outside the room all checked in on us to make sure nothing bad was happening. I was trying to locate a mirror because my shirt felt wet – kid’s slobber. Eeks. Not impressed.