Note to self: Never schedule the kids for a doctor’s checkup at the same appointment. It’s not a good idea to be outnumbered. — Sept. 9, 2005
I jotted down this little tidbit of motherly advice on the flip side of a pediatrician appointment reminder card in the car shortly after taking both our second-born for his 2-week-old checkup and our oldest for his 2-year-old physical and shots almost 15 years ago.
It was written to remind me of one of my most embarrassing parenting moments — one I had completely forgotten until Monday when I found myself and our three kids sandwiched into a tiny exam room at the doctor’s office.
If only I had listened to my former self and went with a man-to-man defense rather than zone.
You see, I wrote that note as a frazzled new mom juggling both a newborn and an exceptionally inquisitive toddler, who decided the most opportune time to escape the exam room we were sequestered in while waiting for the doctor’s arrival was the same exact moment I silenced his hungry brother by nursing him.
In one motion, our toddler twisted the exam room doorknob, opened the door and was bolting toward the packed waiting room full of families who were about to witness more excitement than they bargained for.
With his little legs churning like a track star on the final straightaway, he made it precisely to the center of the waiting room, which was encircled with chairs full of parents and children listening for their names to be called, before I — half exposed — caught up with him — his brother still attached.
After putting up a brief struggle, our 2-year-old took my free hand. With my face 50 shades of scarlet, we nonchalantly walked back to our exam room, where I gently shut the door before barricading it with a chair.
Talk about an instant initiation into motherhood with two kids. Yet, even though it was a nightmare then, it’s something I look back on and laugh at now.
Which brings us to Monday’s doctor visit. I made the appointment for all three because I figured it was safer and there would be fewer contacts in this time of COVID-19, if I took them all together rather than individually.
It didn’t occur to me that the four of us would be crammed in an exam room together for two hours. Fortunately, we and the staff wore masks, which did a good job of covering the tinge of teenage testosterone that permeated through the air.
This time, instead of worrying about a crying newborn or corralling a toddler while breastfeeding, I was treated to 120 minutes of teenage boy talk, which from what I can gather is basically a mix of grunts, laughs and shoves.
When the health care staff finally came in, I briefly concerned with whether the boys would remember their manners and use “sir” and “ma’am” at the end of their sentences instead of the “bruh” or “dude” I hear them use with their friends and each other.
What I should have foreseen but didn’t was the boys’ endless jokes about the “turn your head and cough” tests that we had the pleasure of listening to on the ride home. (Insert parental eyeroll here.) Seeing as this is a family newspaper, I won’t elaborate.
Let’s just say I have learned my lesson and will only be scheduling individual appointments for the kids in the future, even though taking them all together does make for funnier fodder.
Chanda Veno is managing editor at The State Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org