Even before our IF battles, I wasn’t fond of Other People’s Kids (my students in my middle school class excepted). I find that hasn’t really changed a whole lot now that I have a couple myself.
Actually, it’s really Certain Other Kids’ Parents I don’t take to well.
Exhibit A: In the waiting room at the hospital yesterday. We had just learned the surgery would be cancelled and were waiting for her to wake up from the anesthesia and come back to her room. I was SUPER stressed. I tend to remain pretty calm before and during difficult things, and have my reaction later. So I was pretty much silently and invisibly (except to my dh) melting down in my chair.
The waiting room is pretty small, and there was one other family there. Mom, dad, grandma, and 10-year-old boy. They were also waiting for a baby to come out of heart surgery. I gather the boy had really wanted to be there and the parents had allowed him to come, perhaps against their better judgment. But he was miserable. He was whiny and loud and annoying and just plain horrid. His dad clearly wanted to kill him. And so did I. I also wanted to kill the dad — for not finding a way to entertain him. Have you ever seen a 10-year-old boy without a handheld video game in his clutches? Me neither, this must be the only one in America. His parents just stayed on his case constantly — and loudly.
All I wanted was some peace to try to cope with MY situation. I begged the volunteer to find me another room to wait in, but there was nothing she could do.
Then the doc came and got this other family. Mom and dad went, leaving grandma and this rugrat, who then went into full pain-in-the-ass gear. His grandma didn’t try to talk with him or play with him or anything, she just carped at him and he just got worse and worse. Once she threatened to take him back to the Ronald McDonald House. I looked up and said (honest, out loud), “Would you please? Take him?” She didn’t respond and didn’t move. I continued to have my meltdown. I just couldn’t tune them out, all my energy was being used up holding my molecules together.
At last I decided if he wasn’t going to shut up, I needed to act. Strangling him would be frowned upon (we WERE in a children’s hospital, after all) so I decided to make a friend.
I got out my little notebook and made a grid of dots with a red sharpie. Then I went over and sat by the kid. Introduced myself, asked his name and asked him a little about the baby sister he was waiting to see. We chatted. Then I asked if he’d ever played the dots-and-boxes game — the one we used to play in class in junior high, back before kids had cell phones to text under the desk — where you connect the dots, two at a time, to form boxes. Whoever completes the fourth side of a box “gets” the box. When the grid is all filled in, whoever has more boxes wins. He’d never played, so I showed him and gave him a pen.
So I sat in the waiting room and played dots with a strange 10-year-old kid from New York. The poor guy just wanted something to do and someone to pay attention to him.
His parents emerged, and his dad thanked me for playing with his son. I didn’t say much, but you know I wanted to scream, “You’re welcome, asshole! I have nothing to do here except entertain YOUR kid!!!”
Then they all left and I finally had some peace.
When we finally do this surgery I am going to beg the ICU charge nurse to just let me wait in babygirl’s little room. I can’t be out there again, they will have to either admit me to the hospital when I collapse from stress or book me into the jail when I kill someone.