So then…we head off to see the psychiatrist because…
because we live in CALIFORNIA –
and as soon as you move to this state, you’re automatically issued a shrink, personal trainer, eyebrow waxer, and dog whisperer.
Doesn’t even matter if you have a dog – or eyebrows – these folks just show up as soon as you cross the state line.
So we’re off to see the psychiatrist because “we got issues, ya’ll!” – (and there ain’t nothin’ wrong wit’ that!)
Our appointment is at 6:00 pm, so the waiting room is deserted.
And in fact, as soon as the receptionist signs us in — she tells us the doctor will be with us in a moment, then picks up her purse and departs for the evening.
So our daughter Chloe, age 10, plops on a chair and starts doing her homework. David and I talk to our son Tucker, age 13, about this new psychiatrist we’re seeing about his ADHD.
The doctor comes out of the hallway door, greets us, then asks us to follow him. We all get up, except Chloe – who plans to stay to finish her homework, which is fine.
But just as we close the door to walk down the hall to the doctor’s office — a man walks into the waiting room and sits down.
I sorta thought we were the last patients of the day – so I assumed it would be OK for Chloe to stay in the waiting room.
So I say to the doctor in the hallway, “Um, someone just came in, so—?”
He says nonchalantly, “Oh, Ted? I’ve been seeing him for years. It’s fine.” And he continues walking back to his office.
I’m instantly reassured since he uses that same warm tone of voice that you and I would use to describe a beloved friend – like, “Oh, Marge? We’ve been neighbors for years! Best.blueberry.muffins.ever! She’s great!”
But then it hits me.
Wait a minute, I think. You’re not a dentist. Or a barber. You’re a PSYCHIATRIST! If YOU’VE been seeing someone for YEARS, that could mean they have issues with a CAPITAL “I”!
But he’s so casually dismissive when he says that sentence about his psychiatric patient! He’s so cheerful and reassuring —
“Oh, Ted? The sweetest arsonist you’ll ever meet. Best.bonfires.ever.”
“Oh, Ted? The most skilled kleptomaniac around. You won’t even notice anything’s missing!”
“Oh, Ted? You know – for a meth addict? – very charming. You’ll love him!”
Of course I don’t mean to make light of psychiatric matters – (because, believe me, we got some of our OWN issues up in here!) – but it also doesn’t mean I’m enthusiastic about leaving my daughter with this guy for an hour!
On the other hand, I don’t want to instantly grab my daughter and flee in panic, making the poor guy think I assume he’s a maniac.
And yes, I realize most mental issues aren’t contagious!
Because believe me, when we go to the pediatrician, I have no problem steering clear of that kid who’s hacking and coughing and blowing snot bubbles halfway across the waiting room!
And we don’t sit next to the little girl vigorously scratching her lice cap (next to the mom who’s desperately pretending she has NO idea whose kid that is).
And what the hell are those spots all over that kid? Is it measles? Typhoid fever? Leprosy? The PLAGUE? Look away, look away!!
(Am I a bit neurotic? Um, YEAH – I TOLD you we had some issues up in here!)
So it’s not like I think Chloe’s going to catch some mental disorder while she’s in the waiting room with this patient of unknown diagnosis.
It’s not like: “Yeah, she was fine ‘til that day in the waiting room – but now she only eats blue-colored food and talks to an imaginary giraffe named Sparkles.”
But I don’t like to leave my 10-year-old daughter alone with ANY strangers anyway. Even if the doctor has given his blessing. Even if I might hurt the feelings of the stranger.
So as soon as we dispense with introductions in the doc’s office, I let David handle the rest of the session with Tucker — and I go join Chloe and our mystery patient in the waiting room.
Ted is perfectly pleasant, of course –
(and if he’s Obsessive-Compulsive, maybe he can triple check Chloe’s math homework…?)
— Darcy Perdu
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(Do you ever worry your kid will get more sick at the pediatrician’s office? Meanwhile, I hope I don’t offend anyone with this story – believe me, we respect the mental health field and our fellow patients – we just find it helps us to maintain a sense of humor about it all! Feel free to share any funny doctor/nurse/patient stories in the Comments!)