Thursday, January 15, 2015

In the waiting room

Waiting rooms occupy a good amount of our time these days. At the behavioral therapist's office. At the social skills group. At the psychiatrist's office. They're fascinating places.

For one, when there are other parents about, there's almost this tacit agreement not to chat. (Rarely, at the occupational therapy facility we attended, you could get a good conversation going with another parent. But this was more the exception than the norm.) I'm guessing, no one wants to know what's up with your kid. No one wants you to ask what's up with their kid. It's like "Fight Club: Pediatric Edition." The first rule is, don't talk about the diagnosis.

That's OK by me, because I've either 1. brought a book, 2. brought a notebook to work on something, 3. brought my phone to play on or 4. all of the above. But the quiet can be eerie.

Of course, if kiddo is also in the waiting room, that changes things. Because he likes to chat with whoever he sees, and play (not quietly) with whatever toys are available or with whichever Matchbox car or Lego creation he's toting around that day. If there's another kid playing a handheld video game of some sort, he zooms in as if drawn by a tractor beam, and watches over that kid's shoulder, eyes locked on the screen, until it's time to drag him away.

The office of the previous psychiatrist offered a vending machine downstairs, near the entrance. This of course was a perennial draw for kiddo. I could bring all the snacks I wanted, but what he really wanted was something from the machine. Maybe putting money in and watching the prepackaged junk drop into the slot was endlessly fascinating to him. Maybe food you buy is just cooler than food your mom brings from home. Who knows? The new office has a machine too, but I've been able to walk him past it fairly successfully so far.

There is of course no food allowed at the social skills group, on account of allergies. I was betting this was the case, and when I brought kiddo there last time, after his car snack of peanut butter pretzels, I made him use hand sanitizer before entering the office. Sure enough, I saw the giant NO FOOD sign as soon as we walked in, and the word "anaphylaxis." Special needs and allergies, occasionally, go hand in hand. Kiddo was most peeved he couldn't finish his pretzels during group. Eat faster next time, kid.

One of the benefits of our current setup is that one of us can take kiddo to whatever his next appointment is and the other can stay with kiddette. She was spending a lot of time in waiting rooms. She's a fairly self-sufficient kid, perfectly willing to entertain herself -- one time I brought her clothes shopping with me and she sat happily in the dressing room, making one toy talk to another toy, to the amusement of everyone within earshot -- but we still didn't love doing this to her. Bad enough one child has to spend so much time in waiting rooms; there's no reason the other one should too. So she's been granted a reprieve.

Maybe at some point we'll be able to ease up on the waiting rooms. Maybe at some point kiddo (and we) won't need quite so much help. It's nice to think so. But I'm not complaining. Far worse would be if we needed the help, but couldn't get it. And I'm sure that's the case for far too many families.

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