I forgot to relay something that happened at the clinic this morning. When I walked in, I noticed that the waiting room was busier than I’ve ever seen it. There were at least half a dozen women waiting. Usually it’s me and one other woman if that. (Later, the nurse told me that Mondays are their busiest day.)
There was a woman waiting by herself for a bit. Then a man came in with a beautiful little blond boy. The boy had Down’s syndrome and seemed to be maybe 2 or 3. He wasn’t talking but he was hell on wheels. The minute the man set him on the floor, he was off and running. Unfortunately, it seemed that the man/father had little to no interest in keeping tabs on the boy. The woman/mom was busy trying to keep the boy from running through the clinic, trying to open doors, and trying to entertain the little guy. At one point, the boy ran past me and I tried to give him a book on monkeys that was in my chair when I arrived. His mom took it and sat down with him to read him the book.
Not long after beginning the book, the nurse called the woman back to the lab. She left her husband in charge of the lad. He took him onto his lap along with the book. Where the woman actually read to the boy, the man just pointed out things on each page and let the boy turn the pages. Then the boy wiggled down and began running around again. The dad just sat there and watched him. The boy ran by me and ran to the large, heavy door that led from the waiting room into the back rooms of the clinic. He had a good tug on the door but I was afraid he would pinch his fingers if he got it opened just so far.
The dad wasn’t moving so I got up and held the door shut and got down on my knees to talk to the boy. He smiled at me and pulled a magazine out of a nearby rack. I took the magazine, told the boy thanks and went back to my seat. He followed me and seemed to want me to read to him. Trouble is, the magazine was some technical journal. So I turned pages and pointed out things in pictures much as his dad had done with the monkey book. He stayed with me looking at the photos in the magazine until his mom came out about 5 minutes later. She told me thank you and then she picked the boy and his stuff up and she and the dad left.
I guess the reason this has stayed with me is because of the vast differences the mom and dad of this boy had in parenting this child. The mom was full-on engaged and interacting. The dad acted like he was exhausted and had better things to do than chase after his boy. I know you can’t get a good read on a family from a 15 minute encounter, but the fact that it’s still on my mind more than 7 hours later says something.