Sunday, October 22, 2006

What’s Wrong With the Little Girl?

I took D. to Children’s Hospital for his allergy evaluation. Allergy and Immunology actually shares a waiting area with neurology, so it was like coming home, if by “home” you mean “that place we never, ever, EVER wanted to see again because it conjures up such TERRIBLE SHAKES and fears of inadequacy.” So, yeah, home.

Anyway, we signed in and got our pager – they give you a pager, so you can wander the entire hospital freely, and they page you when it’s your turn – and D. ran over to the giant play structure, and we looked at the fish, and we looked out the windows, and then we made our way to the Giant Bank of Computers that Are Deceptively Difficult to Operate. They have games on the computers, but it seems that each computer has a different set of games, and some cannot be quit AT ALL, and I never quite know what’s going on.

Right. Now, visiting Children’s Hospital is an exercise in humility. You get there, you see kids – we shouldn’t know from such tsuris. Really. It makes you incredible grateful for what you have. It’s the one place where I don’t feel like I have to explain anything. People see my kid behaving like a 2-year-old, and they don’t stare. I mean, maybe they stare a little, but then they catch my eye and give me that half smile that says, I know. Me, too.

Well, so I sat near the computers and D. went over and tried one after another, happy to just grab the mouse and move it around the screen. Then he turned around and started talking, just not in a language anyone could understand. A whole bunch of babbling. And this little kid, maybe 4 or 5, turned to her mother and said, “What’s wrong with the little girl?”

OK, now I KNOW his hair is long, but come on. It’s in a manly ponytail, and his clothes are so CLEARLY boy clothes. Did she not notice the directions the buttons go?

Her mother said, “She’s just talking.”

And then she caught my eye and gave me that little half smile. And I thought about explaining that D. is a boy and that he’s not even three yet and a million other things, but instead, I just let it go. I just gave her the half smile back.

I think that what is hardest for us as parents is not so much getting what we got -- or even not knowing what we got. I think it’s more our fear that one day our kids will hear that question -- or see that half smile -- and suddenly go, Wait, are they talking about me? Is something wrong with me?

It’s really amazing to me to see how my perception changes in the blink of an eye. I mean, one minute, we’re just singing and passing the time, and the next minute, What’s wrong with the little girl? – and my whole day is shot.

And when we left, it was raining. But you know what? When we got close to home, the sun was shining, and everything was OK. And when we came in the house and D. saw Mr. WG, he ran over and hugged him and said, “I luh loo,” and it was really good.


Lisa said...

How do I convey the half smile with an emoticon?

I dread the future for these very reasons. Julia isn't 9 months old yet, she's supposed to act like a baby. But I'm already worried about speech delays since her EEG is abnormal in the area of her speech center. I know the road won't always be smooth and it fills me with anxiety.