I had to take Emma, my 4-year-old, two hours away to Jackson, Miss., to see an allergist. Because she’s my kid, her 2-year-old sister came along for the ride as well.
I was fortunate that my mother, Shuggie, as her grandkids call her, was in town visiting and able to hop in the car and accompany us.
Two hours is a pretty long drive when you’re a little kid — or a parent with two little kids. Emma has apparently decided that seat belts are optional and more than once I had to pull off to the side of the road to buckle her back in and threaten her life.
Sadie, her younger sister, thought this was a smashing idea and took a few turns of her own trying to get out of her car seat.
After successfully adding an hour to our trip, we finally made it to Jackson. I stopped and fed the girls lunch and ran a few errands before we made our way to the doctor’s office at exactly Sadie’s naptime. I can’t speak for other toddlers of the world, but I can tell you this: when Sadie gets tired she doesn’t get drowsy and still. Nope. She gets manic.
She makes the Tasmanian Devil look like an altar boy. She spins and squeals. She gets extremely loud. She runs like someone is chasing her. She touches everything around her. She loses her mind.
If we are home and she starts acting bananas, I simply scoop her up, rock her in her rocking chair and by the time her head hits the pillow, she’s out and will sleep for hours. But we were in public.
Sweat began to bead on my forehead and to roll down my back. My heart raced and she ran in circles around the waiting room.
Most of the people in the waiting room seemed amused by her. But when somebody else’s kid is acting like a lunatic, there is a very fine line between “Cute!” and “Oh my gosh. That kid is so obnoxious, why doesn’t she DO something with her?” We were teetering precariously on this precipice and I was digging my toes into the ground to keep from actually falling over the edge.
After Sadie actually licked an armrest and I started having chest pains, my mother was able to maneuver both girls into a chair sandwiched between the two of us. Sadie had quickly made friends with another little girl in the room, and “Sally” followed her over to where we were sitting. Sally was a sweet little girl, and since we were in an allergist’s office I wasn’t as concerned about my children interacting with other kids as I would have been if we were at the pediatrician.
At the pediatrician, every kid you see is like opening a shady envelope during the Anthrax scare — they could be totally harmless, or they could be harboring the Stephen King Stomach Virus which is going to annihilate your family for the next three weeks.
You must tread carefully. But like I said, we were at the allergist. Both of my kids were well: no fevers, no contagious diseases or viruses and I assumed that many of the other children were too.
Sally climbed into the chair between Emma and Sadie and wrapped a chubby little arm around each of their shoulders. My girls grinned, and I smiled despite the fact that we had now been in the waiting room for over an hour.
Sally’s mom had been making conversation with me, and she chose that particular moment to say, “She’s got a rash all over her back. They think it must be measles or some sort of childhood disease.
Her doctor couldn’t figure out what it was so he sent us here.”
My mother and I made eye contact with each other and immediately reached into the chair in between us and grabbed a kid. Sadie wrapped her arms around Sally’s neck and squealed with laughter. I pried her off of her new friend and when Emma asked, “Momma, why can’t we all sit together?”
I answered her truthfully, “Because Sally has a rash and we don’t know what it is.”
Everyone in my house has been well for almost a month and Emma is taking five medications to keep her healthy. She likes to be a trendsetter and went very retro last spring by trying to bring the mumps back into style. If it’s not too much to ask, I’d like to avoid skin to skin contact with an unidentified rash. Please.
Robin Wiley O’Bryant is a syndicated humor columnist, author and speaker. She was born and raised in Jasper and now lives in Mississippi with her husband and three daughters. Read more online at www.robinschicks. com or e-mail Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.