Friday, May 28, 2021

Waiting Room: 2

I was in a new waiting room with my son, waiting for (yet another) evaluation for speech therapy, when I notice her.  A woman, somewhere in age between me and my parents (masks make it hard for me to really tell these days) with long blonde hair... who was *fixated* on my son.  

He was playing with one of those "bead maze" toys that I'm convinced they hand out along with a diploma when a person graduates with a medical degree. I was getting some paperwork sorted out at the front desk when she started talking to him. 

"What about the green bead," she asked.  "Can you move that one?" 

I turned around to look.  My son studied her for a second, then dutifully moved the green bead. I could see her eyes smiling over her mask.  I finished my paperwork and headed back to my seat, when suddenly a loud voice trumpets from the hallway off of the waiting room.  


A boy, all legs, and probably about 13-years-old, bounds in the direction of the woman. 

"Hey, buddy!  How'd it go?" she asks with those smiling eyes. 

I tried to respectfully ignore their conversation at that point, but I will confess that I had one terrible thought: I don't want to be in this room when my son is 13.  God, please don't let me still be in this room in 8 years.  

Now I understood why she was looking at my son the way she did.  The reminiscing and nostalgia that many parents feel as their kids age, of course.  But I'm also convinced that she was remembering. Remembering the beginning of her special needs journey.  Remembering her own son playing with the "bead maze."  Remembering when their biggest issues were how to properly hold a pencil, how to find the words to interact with friends and teachers, and how to use your voice to let others know what's upsetting you.     

I wonder if she thought she'd still be in the waiting room when he reached junior high.  

But my next thought, after my shameful gut reaction, was about that "MAMA!"

If we weren't in this waiting room... would she still be getting that joyful greeting from her teenager? Probably not.  

Maybe I do want to be in this room with my son a little longer. 

Maybe I'll take that slower start, those endless IEP meetings, the unceasing worry about how he'll be treated by his classmates as he ages.  Maybe that's a fair trade for a little more time spent as the center of his world. A quid pro quo to hold off those teenage eyerolls for a few extra years.    

They walk out the door into the rain, and I'm watching her son jump in puddles and laugh.  

Yeah, I'll think I'll keep coming to this waiting room for a few more years.  

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