Everything I know about my two kids can be observed in a 15-minute trip to the doctor's office. Their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and the difference in their temprements are manifested more clearly here than in any other circumstance. The pediatrician is the fire that refines them; he dispenses with all of their pretenses and brings out their truest selves. The doctor's office is a microcosm of my entire universe.
We arrive in the waiting room.
Madeline smooshes her nose up against the wallpaper and exclaims, "This squiggle looks like a worm! This squiggle looks like a seven! This squiggle looks like a cloud shaped like play-doh shaped like a dog's tail, and the dog is laughing and and running and rolling in the mud while he is playing hide-and-seek! This squiggle looks like mitochondrial DNA!"
Sam tries to ingest my receipt and smiles.
The nurse takes us back.
Madeline exclaims, "Oooh! Look at all the books in here! Can I have a Kleenex? Look, I'm hopping on all the squares! How many inches am I? How many feet am I?! How many pounds am I! How many pounds are YOU?!"
Sam tries to ingest a Kleenex and smiles.
The nurse sticks Sam's toe.
His eyebrows flicker, then he smiles. The nurse squeezes the bejeezus out of Sam's toe for five minutes, trying to get enough blood to fill the vial. Sam cranes his neck to watch his newly purple foot with great interest.
The doctor asks Madeline to stand up (so that he can watch her walk).
Madeline goes limp and continues with the dead-fish act for several minutes. The doctor lifts her up and down, trying to get her to bear weight on her feet. Madeline closes her eyes, throws up her arms, and lolls her head back. She rag-dolls until we eventually give up.
Sam lies back placidly. The nurse pricks his leg; he screams for the 4 nanoseconds until I pick him up. He smiles while I redress him and babbles all the way home.
I forcibly put Madeline on the table where 2 nurses help me manhandle her into submission. When they wipe her leg with the alcohol swab she screams so loudly that she nearly ruptures her vocal chords. When they give her her shots, she reverts back to a 7-month-0ld version of herself. She screams, "BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BAAAAAH. MA MA MA MA BA BA MA BA MMMMMMMMMMMMAAAH!"
Madeline refuses to put on her sticker, eat her lollipop, or touch her bribery milkshake because she insists that she "cannot move her arms." She shuffles her feet up the sidewalk because she "cannot walk that fast." She asks to be carried inside because she "cannot climb the stairs." I lay her on the couch to watch Sesame Street. 10 minutes later she starts screaming.
"What is it honey? Are your legs sore?"
"Yeeeeeeees. And I have to go potty but I can't because I can't move my LEEeegs!"
I carry her into the bathroom like an invalid. I help her undress herself, and she screams as her skirt brushes her bandaids. When she is finished she shuffles back to the couch. I offer to carry her, but she says no because "I made her legs hurt worse." 10 minutes later she arrives and I lift her onto the cushions because she just can't lift her wounded little leg that high.
She stopped moaning sometime the following morning.
Madeline is a bright, effervescent little bubble. She is wide-open from dawn until dusk, and beyond. She is inquisitive, chatty, and her vocabulary is out of this universe. She is straight as an arrow: precise, methodical, and unmoving. She is stubborn as an ox, and her affection must be earned. She has an independent spirit, and has never missed me a day in her life. She is delightful - and utterly exhausting.
Sam is as gentle as his sister is wild. He is mellow, even-keeled, and tough. When he gets knocked over in the wake of his sister's "African dancing," he rolls over and smiles. When his sister shoves him because he ventured too close to her train set, he plops down and smiles. When I yell "NO!" because he is reaching for an electrical outlet, he looks at me, bats his giant blue eyes, and crawls the other direction, like he didn't really care that much about it anyway. He snuggles like it's his job, and prefers his mommy to every other person on the planet. He misses me when I leave the room.
And you'd know this about them too, if you ever came with us to the doctor's office.