I was sitting in the waiting room last week, hoping I wouldn’t have to fight off too many people in order to enter the doctor’s office. America has got waiting rooms down: You sit in a padded chair, reading a magazine, until the lovely scrub-clad secretaries call out your name. You close your magazine, stand and follow the lady who is politely holding the door open for you to enter. No such thing in Israel. Sure you have appointments, and sure there is a posted order of who goes when, but there are always people who insist they have to go before you. They claim they are really sick. Or that they left their baby in the car, and really need to hurry (I swear, that one happened to me a month ago.) Or that they just have a small question. And you can’t simply tell them, “No thank you, please wait your turn.” Unless you agree, they literally push you to the side and shove their way in front of you to the doctor’s queue. And if you have a good doctor, he or she barks at them to wait their turn. But doctor’s have their own issues and problems, and sometimes they find it easier not to argue.
This clinic at least installed an American-style “Take a Number” kiosk at the entrance, so I had good reason to be hopeful. Unfortunately, my appointment was with a doctor who had elected not to bother with the kiosk system, unlike the others in the practice. Joy. I sat down in a hard chair, sans magazine, and got ready to run to the open door at the time of my scheduled appointment. Another mother was sitting a few seats away from me, and she seemed to have a rather unruly boy. His teeth were a little big for his small face. He would get real close to his mother’s face, about 1 inch from her face, and yell “Uhhwahhh!” and then pull back about one foot from his mother’s face. And then he would lean in and yell the non-word again, spittle falling on his mother’s nose. And again. By the mother’s facial expression, she didn’t seem to find this behavior too outrageous. After this occurred about three times in a row, the mother quietly told her son that she found the behavior bothersome. After about ten times, the boy got bored and proceeded to stuff himself in a tiny plastic car, more meant for a two-year-old, than his eight-year-old self and proceeded to come within half an inch of knocking into several other people. The mother wiped her face, pulled a magazine from out of her purse and began to read.
I became so angry at this mother. Can’t she control her child? Doesn’t she care about the comfort of the others here who have to endure this obnoxious boy? Name a nasty thought, and I had it. Simultaneously, I knew this family was one of the tribe, not just the Jewish one, but the extra-ordinary one as well. The mother was the best expert on her child’s behavior. She needed support and understanding, not criticism and judgement. But there I was, pissed off and annoyed that this child was not playing by the rules, disturbing my space.
My doctor’s door opened, I checked my watch and it was a few minutes after my scheduled appointment time, so I bolted in before anyone else could.
I’m tired. I’m tired of all of the tantrums, and screaming fits. I’m tired of worrying about what other’s think. I’m tired of expecting notes home from the teacher, and I’m tired of having to make excuses. Sometimes things are great, and sometimes it feels like nothing works, like nothing is ever going to work. Morning tests are great, afternoon tests are almost always failed. School suspensions and expulsions are probably in our future, and there really isn’t anything I can do about it.
And then, there are my other daughters, who continue to thrive and achieve well beyond what First Daughter has accomplished. How can I start interacting with normal, when it feels like my entire parenting career has been about navigating the pitfalls of an ADHD world. Second Daughter has shown an amazing talent for sewing, in addition to her ongoing talents of kindness, friendship and serenity. Third Daughter just started first grade, and diligently does her homework, and genuinely enjoys school. Second and Third Daughters are enrolled in an after-school swimming club together, and separately in a science class and a ceramics class. The go happily and enjoy every moment. It’s hard to be completely happy for them, without thinking of the experiences that First Daughter never had, couldn’t do.
I’m tired and sad, looking at all of their baby pictures, and remembering when my biggest concerns were about which diaper brand was going to chaffe their tushie less (yes, I was one of those mommies.) I’m not getting enough breaks either. Parenting an ADHD child is constant stimulation, constantly having your attention dragged to a million and one places, and your special child insists you look at this, and this and now this.
I should be grateful, and most times I am. My children are healthy. We can afford to provide nice clothes and shoes for them, as well as good food and the occasional outing. My children are also incredibly well behaved, given everything they’ve been through. But sometimes it’s just too much.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that waiting-room mother, and wondering what her home life is like. Does she actually love that little boy whose mere presence was making everyone else so angry? Is she proud of everything he has accomplished? Does she prefer to withdraw from the world, already over-stimulated at home, looking forward to nights in front of the television when she can just do absolutely nothing? While her other mommy-friends indulge in “Mommy time” by going out with friends, going out to dinner with their partners, taking in a show, does she politely decline because she just can’t take one more adventure? Is she tired from school-battles and cruel judgement? Does her heart just melt when she looks at her precious boy?
I know my heart melts at the thought of my girls. We used to co-sleep when they were all babies, and emotionally, I’m still not use to them being in separate rooms. It is worth it all, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. My girls, all three of them, are such joys, so beautiful. I can see this even through the exhaustion. And I daily thank G-d for bringing them into my life, and letting me get to witness the beautiful human beings that they are becoming.