Thursday, August 29, 2013

We Try

I wrote the letter. I went over the incident. I said that children's feelings are just as valid as adults'. I said that telling them they must deny their feelings is dangerous (thank-you, Angella) and that what the assistant had done would never have been tolerated if directed towards an adult. I didn't rant and I didn't rave, I just said what I wanted to say. I printed it, I signed it, I put it in an envelope, I addressed it. I will put a stamp on it and mail it tomorrow.
I don't want this to be an e-mail. I want it to be a real paper letter.

Here's what I'm ashamed of- I KNEW I should speak up yesterday. I knew it. When that woman had her hand on my grandson and he put his hand on hers and wanted to push it off of him but was afraid or too polite, or whatever...I should have said something.

We all know I have a huge phobia about doctors. I just do. And as much as I have diligently searched my mind for a possible reason, I can't quite figure it out. My earliest memory of a doctor is a positive one. I had strep throat and my mother took me to a pediatrician and she was a woman and she was very sweet and I have no negative feelings associated with that memory. I suppose the whole thing could have started with the flu shots I had to get from another pediatrician when I was a little older. He was actually a friend of my mother's and I knew him but I was terrified of that needle and it took him and the nurse and my mother to hold me down. Was that it? Was it?

I don't know but I do know that I have been horribly intimidated by doctors my entire life and that's probably one of the reasons home birth appealed to me so. If I was at home, no doctor could talk me into something I didn't want to do. And that turned out to be true.
You know, I don't think intimidated is the right word. And it's not just doctors. It's anyone who works in a doctor's office. I think sometimes I went to nursing school to try and work through that phobia or neurosis or whatever it is and it did not work.
I get nervous and anxious when I go to a doctor's appointment with someone I love.
I literally drive out of my way to avoid driving by the hospital. This is not sane. But I do it.

And so all of this, I suppose, is to explain why I didn't speak up yesterday. Well, all of this and also the fact that I didn't want to jump down her throat in front of Owen. I didn't want to make it worse than it was. And yet, part of me thinks that it would have been good for Owen to know that his grandmother, his family, is here to protect him.

I don't know. Maybe I'm making too much of the whole deal but I don't think so and I'm not especially proud of the way things went and maybe what I should have done was to go directly back into the office and speak to the dentist and the woman while Lily was getting the boys in the car. We were both so stunned, Lily and I. Stunned into speechlessness for that moment?

I don't know. But I have written the letter and tomorrow I will send it and I will have done my job. I have had a dream-within-a-dream day and even though there was some sort of deep wrongness in the way the yeast in my bread performed when I baked the loaf, it will still taste good as the recipe is one of my oldest favorite ones and has corn flour and whole wheat, molasses, ground cloves, raisins and lemon peel in it. I have taken leftover soup and leftover beans and corn and other things and made a different soup. A soup and a bread and clothes dried on the line and a letter and a day in my life and I think tomorrow I may let Baby and her baby out of the coop because they are partly wild-things and right now, they are up on the highest perch and that child-chick is huddled against her tiny mother, the tiny mother with her wing spread over her baby as best as she can do it.


  1. I can't for the life of me find one justification for their policy to ban parents. With the exception of the surgical suite when wisdom teeth were removed, I was always allowed and encouraged to stay with my child. My grandson is a severe hemophiliac. He is in every instance praised for being brave no matter how much he screams and cries when he has to get a needle. He is rewarded with toys and extra screen time or ice cream, because these are things that scare children and it is normal for them to cry and resist. It seems like that hygienist would benefit from talking to the local hemophilia association about calming and handling children under duress.

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  3. The deal that woman made with Owen was to make him suppress his feelings so that he can have what he wants, the toy. That is a very bad deal. Shame on her for trying to manipulate him this way, I love that photograph of him with his daddy. With all of you, he is in really good hands, but I am glad you wrote a letter to put an end to her bad deals with kids. If she can't respect them, she should not work with them.

  4. I'm glad that you took action to express your feelings. Hard to know why sometimes action takes a while--I suspect the root of it is some kind of fear. It generally is for me. And maybe simply not expecting this to happen and then there it was. But now you have taken an action which hopefully will result in a change in policy. I hope it does anyway.

  5. It's so hard to speak up in the moment. For everyone. No shame: you're writing a letter. You're doing exactly the right thing.

  6. Good for you - action is action and at least you did not let it go. I think this is important. I too have a hard time speaking up to these authority figures but I am getting better. Sweet Jo

  7. Good job Ms. Moon. Writing that letter is the right thing to do. And Owen will be ok - he is surrounded by love and you all will erase that memory in no time.

    And Baby. And her baby. I love that little chicken :)

  8. You did nothing wrong dear Mary. This happened and you wrote a letter. Good for you. If it seems right, tell Owen you wrote that letter because you didn't like how the lady at the dentists office didn't listen to his feelings. Or not. He may have totally left it behind. Lord knows he gets validated by those of you around him in the most beautiful way. He's just fine so rest easy Mer Mer. Hugs.

  9. EEEk. It's not hard to imagine why it is bad to be manipulated by a bigger, stronger adult with a bribe. This woman needs some more tools in her toolbox. These situations where kids are afraid and stressed are difficult and hard to handle for everyone, BUT there's got to be a better way.
    I admire you for following through with the letter. I do not think fast on my feet, and have had some similar regrets. It's good to act on them.

  10. It seems sadly common that people who work in medical offices are unhealing types, to put it mildly---the exceptions are always so noticeable. In terms of hoping to educate this woman, the letter might be more effective than if you'd said something to her on the spot. (I might have cc'd the dentist, so he knows how his staff is operating.) Owen is a secure little kid, surrounded by love---he knows you've got his back.

  11. YAY MARY! Letter writing is such a powerful weapon especially these days when electronic communication appears and disappears so fast we barely recognize it. Well done well done. I love you. I love that you noticed and worried about it and fretted over it. I share your doctor phobia. I adore you.

  12. There are always going to be situations where we don't speak up. Maybe you just froze because you couldn't believe what was happening. When my son was 8 and being bullied by one boy in his class his teacher called me and my son in and said it was my son's fault because he was too sensitive. My son was devastated by the comment and started to cry and I JUST SAT THERE. I didn't want to come off asv*rude* and the kind of parent that talks back to a teacher. So I just sat there!!! Stupid me! Now when I think about it I want to call her fat cow and then tell her not to be so sensitive.
    And yes, my son remembers the conversation had hated every day of grade 2 after that incident.

    I am so glad you wrote the letter!

  13. Here is the thing - the letter will do good.

    And if you all give Owen the space to talk about how he felt about it, and affirm that his feelings were right - it won't do him any harm. If you can say, so it looked like you wanted that nurse to take her hand off you? And you let him say, yes, I did, and she wouldn't, and you say, she should have, she should have asked you if it was ok. And then you let him choose whether or not to go back there again - you give him back his agency and his power and it will be ok.

    Really. It's how these experiences are handled that make the difference, more than what happens in the first place. Let him talk about it. Let him know he's heard.

  14. Whenever a client of mine is abused by the health care system/person-I encourage letter writing because it makes a difference. It really does. What happened to that sweet boy was abuse, in my opinion and you go for being the grandma who voiced her outrage.

    He'll be ok too because he has buckets of love all around him.

    XXXXXXX Beth

  15. Lisa- I think that assistant would just benefit from being a little more compassionate. And some education. You're right.

    Andrea- That is the truth.

    Syd- At least a complaint/concern was made. There is that.

    Sara- I have never been good at speaking up. Never. I know it comes from childhood.

    Sweet Jo- I like to think I am but I think mostly I just avoid those situations.

    Jill- Those chickens are the cutest thing. And yes, I'm sure Owen will be fine.

    Angella- I'm pretty sure that Owen HAS left it behind but if it comes up, we'll talk about it for sure.

    Denise- As I said in my letter, it took me time to gather my thoughts. And truly, it did.

    A- I wrote it TO the dentist.

    Madame Rebecca- I adore you too.

    Birdie- What is it about authority figures, even stupid ones, that make us feel like tiny children?

    Jo- Oh, we will.

    Beth Coyote- And so much love and kisses back to you. Yes, Owen will be fine. But I'm still pissed.

  16. that bread sounds like a perfect dream to me.
    I am glad you wrote the letter.
    You do protect Owen. I think you were just in shock. It's okay.
    you are my hero in a million ways.

  17. I'm so proud of you for sending the letter. So many times I think, "I'm going to write a letter," and then I just don't. I believe that an actual letter, not a phone call or email, will have a huge impact. This woman needs some educating, aka reality check. A child learns from what s/he experiences. Owen has had so many amazing experiences/lessons from family and friends that he probably knows this was a fluke and the woman is a flake!!!

  18. I'm glad you wrote the letter. And I wouldn't regret not speaking up immediately. Sometimes it takes humans a while to gather our thoughts and back down from our immediate angry or stunned response before we even know what we want to say.

    That last paragraph really got me, knowing the latest news about Baby.

  19. Quite often I don't speak up when I should, because I am in some sort of shock that a person is behaving so badly or rudely or meanly or inconsiderately. It takes me a while to realize how pissed off I am, and that I must confront that person about it.

    It might also be a little bit of fear of unpleasant conflict, but I usually push myself past that and say what has to be said, difficult as that is sometimes. But eventually, and often after I've had a chance to simmer down and think straight.

    It hurt nothing that you waited till you were ready to approach it in a calm way.


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