Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brief respite

Yesterday was a long morning. Any morning that includes physically restraining not one but both of your children so that the doctor can stick the evil otoscope (That Which is Most Feared) down one of their sensitive, swollen ears…and then repeat for the other side! –is a long morning. I love Dr. Coleman, our pediatrician. He tells my girls it’s Rape of the Sabine Women time. (Not that they know what that means.) He doesn’t belabor the moment – he dives right in, and finishes the exam before they even realize they’ve lost their reason to scream. And they really scream. My elder daughter has some serious lungs, and my younger is in active competition. His partner heard one of my girls (I don’t even remember which one we were torturing at the time) all the way from the elevators and came back to our exam room to see if assistance was needed.

Nothin’ to see here. Just some persnickety Eustachian tubes and two pissed-off tube wardens.

Once, I think it was even still when I had only one child to destroy the morning calm with, Dr. Coleman asked me to stop taking the 8:30am appointments –it was too hard on his nerves to start his day with that much screaming. I like the 8:30s because they let me miss a minimum of work (on those Fortune-graced visits when the health reports let me actually continue on to work), and so I choose to operate on the premise that he was teasing me, just as I'm sure he was when he mentioned halfway through E's examination yesterday that he needed a stiff drink. He’s got a pretty wry disposition. I choose to believe he admires feisty.

Even if he doesn’t let it show.

After that pleasant visit we drove to daycare to take E in for the day even though her sister had won herself a day home and even though E was not happy that L got a day home and she didn’t and even though it was raining and nasty and a no-fun day for driving all the way down to work when I wasn’t even going to be going to work.

It was somewhere between raining and hailing when we pulled up in the daycare lane and L was asleep and E asked to be taken out of the car first. It didn’t make sense because she’d be standing around for the length of time it would take me to wake L and unbuckle her. But E just wanted this so badly and had been denied so many requests already (even though they were mostly unreasonable, like don’t touch my ears!). I told her I’d let her out first but she had to run to the doors and stand under the cantilevered roof until I could meet her with L in my arms to go inside. The door is maybe 20 yards away and I knew I’d be able to see her the whole time, but the door is also too heavy for her to open by herself and I also therefore knew that she’d be standing in the cold for an unnecessary extra minute or two.

Just then one of the building’s security guards came walking down the sidewalk. He heard me tell E to go straight to the sheltered area and he smiled at her, held out his hand, and the most amazing thing happened.

She smiled back and took it.

The man in a black-and-white uniform with one hand steadying the gun holstered on his belt and the girl in the purple flowered raincoat with one hand steadying the metallic purple purse on her shoulder, this unlikely pair held hands and skipped to the double doors. He pulled the heavy handle open for her and together they waited for me in the warm, dry vestibule.

He didn’t need to escort her and he didn’t need to wait with her. As a guard on this federal complex he knew exactly how safe she was and exactly how few places she could go, especially as a child with no ID badge. As L and I finally approached he held the door open for me, too. “Thank you!” I said, with I hope not too much wonderment in my voice and my eyes.

“I have a three-year-old grandchild,” he answered with a large smile and a small shrug. And as he badged himself out of the vestibule and into the main building, away from the daycare, he turned back to E and waved goodbye to her. Hesitating a fraction of a second, he then turned to me and said, “God bless you,” and he was gone.

It had been such a wearying morning but in that moment I felt weightless. Pin It