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Dr. No

I adore Simon’s regular pediatrician. I think he’s a great diagnostician, and I know he’s attentive and really cares about our whole family. He takes a gentle approach to Simon that has all but eliminated Simon’s anxiety in the examining room, and he approaches Matt and me as intelligent adults doing our best. His only negative is consistently running behind schedule, the natural result of his being attentive and thoughtful with all of his patients.

Yesterday more than ever I could see how worth the wait he is. Thursday Simon’s allergies flared up again, accompanied by a nasty cough. That night, Simon coughed in a barky, seal-like way for three full hours: from 9:00 to 10:00, 12:00 to 12:30, 2:00 to 2:30, and 6:00 to 7:00. It was a long, restless night for all of us.

Friday morning, after another solid hour of croup-ish coughing, I decided to see the pediatrician. It being the Friday before Derby, I took the first available appointment with no regard to which doctor we’d be seeing. As it happens, that put us with a doctor I had seen once before and had not hit it off with. Still, I took the appointment happily, chatted with Simon about the new doctor, and went into the exam with an open mind. We can all make bad first impressions, and some days we’re all petty and overly critical.

I do not like him then or now.

I do not like him anyhow.

I do not like this doctor, so you see.

Neither did Simon. How could he?

Not for a cough. Not for a scrape.

Not for keratosis [diagnosed in both of us]. Not for halitosis.

He offered no greeting. No adequate seating.

When he shone his light bright,

He gave Simon a fright!

Then called him a “flower”

With a bit of a glower.

With the smirk on his face,

He was devoid of all grace.

I’d say he was presumptuous,

Overbearing, and unctuous!

I do not like this doctor, so you see.

Neither did Simon. How could he?

Apologies to Dr. Seuss there.

Our visit culminated with the giving of unwanted advice on potty-training. (Dude, you don’t know this kid, and you are not his regular pediatrician. Do shut up, please.) After I explained what we’ve done, where we are, and my very real questions about Simon’s physiological readiness as opposed to any mental blocks he might have, I was given one-size-fits-all advice and told not think about it.

“Sometimes you have to just go with the flow and not think too much.”

“But I like thinking about things!” came my rejoinder, attempted in a faux jokey, breezy tone that in the South means “Stop talking now.”

He didn’t take the hint. “I can see that. You seem very articulate.”

Now maybe that was an innocent compliment. Maybe he’s so used to dealing with children that he forgets that what sounds nice and supportive to a child sounds condescending and insulting to a grown-up. Was this merely a Biden moment? Maybe.

But honestly, I’m going with my first instinct here. Also, for the record, every single parenting decision that I have made that has worked out well—from nursing in the early days to discipline in the later ones—has come from careful observation of my child coupled with careful reading of the available literature. I have surely made mistakes along the way and will surely make more, but “not thinking” is simply not an option for any of us! Nor is seeing this doctor again.

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