You Clearly Have Never Met a Child and Don't Remember Being One

>> Monday, April 5, 2010

I met a women today.  I know very little about her other than what I learned in a few short minutes of interacting with her, but I can tell you that I realized how amazingly much you can learn (or think you can learn) about someone in a very small amount of time.

This woman was the receptionist at my doctor's office.  I had never seen her before today, so I am guessing she was new to the staff.  She seemed young-ish, but in that nebulous category where you aren't sure if she is a slightly aging 20-something, a young looking 40-something, or a 30 year old who sits in the sun all the time.  You know the kind, right?  I never know if I say something about, "Phil Collins in the post-Genesis era" whether she will nod knowingly or look at me blankly.

Let me step back for a moment and set the scene for you.  I am now the proud mommy of a semi-potty trained Toddler.  He wears underwear, most of the daytime, and he's pretty good about peeing in the potty.  Like all boys, he needs some gentle reminders.  I would not push him too hard about waiting anytime he asks to go, if you get my drift.  I'm reasonably confident that, "I need to go potty" means he has at least a few minutes of game time to go, but I haven't really tested that theory and I don't really intend to.

So, there we were, Toddler and me, walking out of the elevator and down the hallway to the doctors office, when I asked him if he needed to go.  He looked up at me, calmly, and said, "Yes.  I need go potty."  Well, okay, then!  We're plenty early, the doctor's office has a nice, roomy bathroom, so ... cool!  We can do this.

We open the door, and I try to sign in.  Ms. Receptionist says, "Don't bother.  Name, please?"

I give her my name, and, because she is behind this wall with only a pretty darn high window to peer through and can't see people only 2 feet high, I said, "I have a toddler under the counter here, and he just said he needs to go potty, so we need to step away..."

"Is your address still at ******?"

"Um, yes."

"Insurance still the same?"

I'm looking over at Toddler, who has found a calendar at his eye level, and he is reading all the numbers in the calendar out loud to the waiting room.  I ask him, a little pointedly for my ambivalently-aged friend's benefit, "Toddler, can you wait a minute to go potty?  Are you okay?"

He looks quickly at me and says, "I'm okay."  Of course, anyone who has been around small children for more than ... say ... 15 minutes knows that when a small child says, "I'm okay," it means absolutely nothing whatsoever.  Those be "filler words," ma'am.  Believe them at your peril.

Alas, nothing is sinking in for the woman behind the window.  I tell her there has been a small update to my insurance card, and I hand it to her, thinking she can take it and copy it while I go take care of business.  I start to step away, and open my mouth to say I'll be right back, when she says, "I still need your co-pay."  Um, lady, how far do you think I'm actually going to go with my insurance card in your hand?  I think we can all pretty much be sure that I will be back shortly, at least to claim my insurance card, and there will be at least one other chance to ask me for my co-pay.  I don't believe I'm wearing a sign that says, "Idiot," but maybe she is just projecting something she might do.  Who knows.  So, I get out my credit card ('cause I forgot to bring cash), and I try to hand it to her, so I can walk away.  (Picture me, every few moments, checking in with Toddler, who -- thankfully -- is not yet dancing on his toes and grabbing himself by his personals.)

She won't take the card.

She's too busy painstakingly comparing my existing card with the little numbers in her computer.  Then, when she sees a difference, she is backspacing something out of the computer and correcting it.

Hey, what happened to keeping a photocopy of my card on file and DOING THIS ON YOUR TIME, NOT MY KID'S?

Then, finally, more minutes later than I think are humanly possible, she swaps my insurance card for my credit card.  I, in the meantime, am eyeing Toddler sharply, noting that there is still no potty dance going on but thinking all the while, "Aw, c'mon, lady!"  I concluded that at no time has this woman ever so much as been near a small child.  She couldn't have been.  As for me, I was trying to figure out what the consequences would be if I said to her, "Listen, lady, if he pees on the floor because you are slower than a snail, I won't be the one to clean it up."  Then I figured she might not understand me, and I'd waste even more time trying to clue her in.  If he started potty dancing, I'd grab him and make a run for it and let her figure it out.

Finally, after signing my credit card slip, I was free to take my kid to the bathroom, where we made it with plenty of time to spare.  But still!  Really?  Someone tells you their kid has to go potty and you IGNORE them? 

I hate to be vindictive, but I think it might have served her right if he did pee on the floor, as mortified as I would have been at that time.


Dazee Dreamer April 5, 2010 at 10:16 AM  

It really is too bad he didn't pee on the floor. Would have served her right!!! And yikes, I've been known to do the potty dance. So I can only imagine how those poor kids feel.

Niff and Andy April 5, 2010 at 11:31 AM  

You're much more patient than me. I would have told her "brb, let me take him to the restroom before he tinkles on the floor" and walked off. She can wait!

Nat Raven April 8, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

This strikes a chord with me,as we're potty training also [although as yet not as advanced as leaving the house without pull-ups!] This is exactly the type of person that I encounter at such moments...yet still- despite their apparent lack of civility [and basic common sense?!] I just about manage to play along to their tune without cracking...

Karin Kysilka April 9, 2010 at 1:42 PM  

I agree with all of you. I only let it go on so long because (a) I couldn't believe it was really happening, and (b) I thought I had a few moments to spare since I actually asked Toddler first. If he said one word, or twitched one toe in that little dance, we would have been so OUTTA THERE! (PS, the potty was only about 7 feet away.)

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