avoiding (tongue) depression

“He’s doing better, right? He shouldn’t have to go to the doctor. I mean, why put him through the stress?”

Peter must have heard the pleading in my voice because he agreed that our son seemed to be on the mend. Philip no longer sneezed out hunks of snot. He hadn’t coughed in my face for hours. He ate and drank normally, ran no fever, and had the energy to knock over our bookcase. Twice. When Philip fell asleep, I was hopeful that he would be fully recovered by morning so I wouldn’t have to put myself through the stress of taking him to the doctor.

Philip awoke in the early morning hours. His crying was hoarse.

Well, shit, I thought.

Several inches of snow closed school, so it was only a matter of phoning in for an appointment, calling off from work and shoveling out the driveway before we were on our way.

I braced myself for the worse as I checked in with the receptionist. To my surprise, Philip skipped back to the exam room

“You’re in a good mood,” I remarked.

And he was. He fussed a bit with the thermometer, but loved pressing the stethoscope to his chest. Vitals measured and history taken, the nurse departed. Philip didn’t type  “bye” to indicate he wanted to leave, too. Instead, he entertained himself by looking at his reflection in the sink and rattling the paper on the exam table.

The doctor arrived, and Philip sat on my lap for the exam. I prepared to wrap Philip in my arms so the doctor could look check him out without struggle. No need. Philip sat still, giggling when the otoscope tickled his ear. The pediatrician looked in Philip’s nose and eyes. Philip looked right back.

Then the doctor needed to see Philip’s throat.

“Say ahhh.” The pediatrician demonstrated how wide Philip should stretch his jaw.  Philip helped direct the light into the doctor’s gaping maw, but refused to open his own mouth.

“Well, I guess I’m going to need one of these,” the doctor conceded as he reached into the jar of tongue depressors.

tongue-depressors.jpgI flash backed to Philip’s last wellness check. The nurse practitioner, wanting to distract Philip, had pulled out two tongue depressors for him to fidget with. All hell brook loose. He grabbed one, waved it in front of his mouth and burst into tears. The nurse showed how the tongue depressors could dance. Philip cried. She twanged them on the counter. He sobbed some more. Even when she tucked them out of sight, the tears still streamed down his face. I wrestled with him for the rest of the now-futile exam. He calmed just in time for his flu shot which made him cry once more.

Remembering his wails, I thought, He’s going to gag. He’s going to cry. He’s going to wiggle free.

“He hates those. He knows exactly what they’re for.”

No sooner had I uttered the words, Philip snatched the tongue depressor from the doctor’s hand. He opened his mouth and pushed down his tongue. The pediatrician shined the light into Philip’s mouth.

“Looks good!” he announced.

Philip threw the stick on the counter and sprang from my lap. Tears brimmed in his eyes, but he smiled. I thought I could detect a hint of pride.

“We’ll have to remember that trick,” said the doctor.

We were soon on our way home. The doctor prescribed fluids and rest for Philip’s cold. I wrote myself a prescription for avoiding future anxiety: next time, let Philip do it himself.

It has unlimited refills.


23 thoughts on “avoiding (tongue) depression

  1. AH!!! What a triumph. Congrats to you both. Sometimes the stress of anticipation is more weighty than the deed itself. Kids will psych you out like that too. Just when you build up the scaffolding necessary to hold everything together they’ll skip through out of the blue like “I’ve got this.” It’s humbling. Hope he feels perfect again soon!


  2. This is so beautiful. Amazing when our children surprise us with their coping skills and independence–especially when it comes out of the blue. My 2yo son has been obsessed with a toy hammer lately. It’s like a security blanket to him. He hangs onto it in the car on the way to daycare, and we say goodbye to it for the day and leave it in his car seat. But yesterday I forgot about that routine until we were just outside his classroom door. I asked if he’d hand it to me and he shook his head and tightened his grip. I was preparing for a total shitstorm, like the most angry, tearful goodbye ever once I pried the hammer from his fist, but instead he reconsidered, said “Here Mommy”, and offered it to me for safekeeping. Love those life skills of cooperating even when it’s hard or uncomfortable to do so,

    Liked by 1 person

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