My daughter and I both had an eye appointment the other day. I needed new contacts and her glasses need replacing (seriously hoping the same ones are still on the market as she wears them!)
This was a new place to her. Thankfully I have been there before so paperwork went smoother and thankfully my husband the week before because my insurance card forgot to make its way back to my wallet after updating Dexcom.
Ideal receptionists are calm, polite and have smiles on their face. We know that’s not always the case, but it was this day. The employees tried asking my daughter the questions “what’s your name?”and “how old are you?” I pause here and watch my daughter. She smiles and crunches her shoulders in while she extends her arms. This is one of her visual cues of happiness. I smile as well and prompt my daughter. “My name is _____. I am 9.” She repeats her name and that she’s nine and giggles in excitement as she loves that confirmation that she did a great job.
We had to take a photo for our account, a lovely web cam picture that probably looks like my Costco membership card. She needed a picture too. I scooped up the 67 pound girl and ask her to say “cheese!” Naturally, she looked down for the photo, but, bless them they didn’t ask her to repeat this photo. Instead they said “we’ll make it work.”
I tell my little lady she can go play with the toys in the waiting room while I fill out paperwork. She is thrilled and having a great start as she says “bus!” as she spots the Little People school bus. When she moves that she sees Princess Ariel and Prince Eric along with their seahorse carriage. We have the same carriage at home. That’s passed over, but Ariel and Eric get to ride the bus.
As a mom who has spent her fair share of time in the hospital with sick kids, not to mention spent this girl’s first years pre-heart surgery desperately trying to keep her from getting ill, I’m not a huge fan of waiting room toys. Or floors, for that matter. But I have also discovered I’d much rather let my kids play and wash off their hands later than fight them to sit quietly. I have learned to choose my battles.
Another battle is my little one prefers to sprawl out on the floor and play. And, unsurprisingly, she did. She took up a good chunk of the waiting room, but not many others were there. I was plopped in a chair in front of her filling out health history forms and privacy forms while keeping one eye on the silent conversation between the bus driver and Ariel. They bobbed their plastic heads at each other.
The employees looked down and saw my little lady on the floor and I half expected them to ask me to move her to a chair. See, not too long ago she and I were at an appointment of her brother’s. We were, again in a waiting room, in a similar manner. She was again playing on the floor with Little People while I watched her creativity. Sometimes I can join her, but often she prefers solitary play. That particular day the receptionist whispered something to my daughter and took her arm to try to pull her up. If you know my girl, if she doesn’t want to move she will put all her force into it and refuse. And the loud squawk she gave that day told me she didn’t want to get up. I was up and by her within seconds. The receptionist that day asked me if I could have my daughter sit up. See, she’s almost always in a dress. That day she was as well. I put yoga shorts over her pull-up because I know kids. They play. And don’t want to worry about if the skirt rides up. Honestly, I do the same thing for the same reason.
That day the receptionist asked me if I could ask my daughter to sit up as her underwear was showing and there was a man in the office. I had already pulled my daughter into my lap by now and looked at this man, who hadn’t looked up from his paperwork.
I was already vulnerable this particular day. This incident put me over the edge and I curled behind my little girl who began stroking my hair and giggling in her sweet manner. And tried, unsuccesfully, not to cry. Both touched by my daughter’s manner and mad at myself because I didn’t speak up that day. For myself, for my daughter, or even the person in the waiting room. Granted I did not know his story, but I had no fear from him until she had said something. I say there, I brushed the tears off my cheeks, I snuggled with the sweet girl on my lap until we were done.
So when the receptionists at the eye center saw my daughter sprawled in a similar position I considered moving her. But instead of a disapproving look these ladies smiled. And I smiled. We had a conversation about some of her cute quirks and instead of it being small talk, they were genuinely interested. And I thanked the lucky stars for the gift of kindness.
And it did continue, through both our exams and while her glasses were adjusted. When she escaped to admire her reflection in the mirror while I was putting my contacts back in someone stood by her and asked her one of her favorite questions; “who is that beautiful girl in the mirror?”
See, interacting with special needs people is unpredictable at best. Being a caretaker is rewarding, but exhausting from spending your life trying to piece things together. This mama is grateful for the experience we had that day. Thank you to the staff of Envision.