My two year old, who had not figured out where we were going yet, happily sang songs while he kicked the back of my seat. The ophthalmologist had been a standing appointment every three months since he was four months old. That’s when I had noticed that he was not looking at faces or tracking the mobile that hung over his crib. He started wearing glasses at twelve months and, though I hated to cover his beautiful eyes, I was so thankful he could see at all.
“Mom, watch this!” My daughter said from the backseat.
“I can’t right now, Honey, I’m driving,” I replied.
“Mom, does God love the devil?” she asked.
“You know, I think that’s a good one to ask your Sunday School teacher,” I replied, marveling at the question.
“Mom, Anna stole my pencil at school today and wouldn’t give it back,” she said, putting her hand over her brother’s mouth to make him stop singing.
“Mom! He bit me!” She yelled.
“Eli, no biting.” I said, attempting to keep my voice calm and firm.
“Emily, don’t put your hand over his mouth.” I said, trying to keep the irritation out of my voice.
“Stop it! Mom, he’s trying to kick me!” She yelled.
“Eli, no kicking.” I sighed. He just smiled at me in the rear view mirror. It took effort not to smile back at the mini Harry Potter sitting in the carseat.
We finally arrived at the doctor’s office ten minutes late. I gathered the kids from the car and hurried inside. That was when Eli realized where he was. He started whining, which then turned into crying, threatening a tantrum. Emily, the helpful older sister, distracted him in the elevator by making funny faces and dancing around. He laughed.
When we reached the office, they took us back immediately. In the darkened room, Emily darted back and forth, drawing Eli’s attention to this thing and that to keep him from becoming upset, while I filled out the stack of questionnaires for what seemed like the millionth time in two years.
“Mom, what is this?” Emily asked as she reached for a piece of equipment.
“Don’t touch that,” I said.
“Eli, look!” She darted over to a little toy pig and turned it on.
Oh my goodness, why do they always ask me the same questions? I thought.
Eli was delighted with the pig that oinked and walked around on the floor.
“Mom, how do glasses work exactly?” Emily asked. By exactly, I knew she meant exactly. Answering that glasses helped people to see better would not be enough. I could feel the tension in my head start to tighten. Sometimes my brain hurt when she started asking questions. I pointed out a chart that was hanging on the wall and started to explain how light comes into the eye, but then I noticed that Eli was putting something in his mouth. I reached down and pulled a dirt covered fruit snack from his hand. He was already chewing. There were several more on the floor under the bench. We didn’t bring fruit snacks with us.
Ew, I thought.
“That’s dirty, Sweetie, don’t put that in your mouth,” I said. My head was starting to throb.
“Hi Eli!” said a chipper voice from the doorway. I winced.
The teenage nurse held something behind her back. She looked at me knowingly. Eli immediately started to whine as I picked him up and held him in my lap.
“Look what I’ve got for you!” she sang as she held out a lollypop, which Eli grabbed.
I unwrapped it while he held it and then popped it into his mouth. I laid him down across the bench with his head in my lap. He protested, so his sister held his hand and told him to be a big boy. The nurse brought out the medicine as I held open his left eye, but as it began to fall from the tip of the dropper he twisted, I lost the grip on his eyelids and he blinked. At that point, he took the lollypop out of his mouth, planted it in my hair, arched his back and began to wail. The nurse and I worked swiftly, as with one mind. I grabbed his head firmly and she grabbed his eyelids and held them open. She expertly dropped the medicine into both eyes and it was done.
The worst is over, I thought.
The young nurse quickly left the room to find another victim while I ripped the lollypop out of my hair and handed it to Eli with only a few strands still attached. He smiled and went back to the toy pig. That’s when I remembered that I had forgotten to ask the nurse a question. I don’t know what the question was now, but I am positive that it could have waited. I’m not sure what possessed me to leave the room, temporary insanity, who knows, but I did it.
“I’ll be back in just a second, you watch your brother,” I told my daughter, “don’t let him get into anything.”
“Yes ma’am,” she said, proudly.
As I walked out of the room, I vaguely remember Emily saying, “Sit here Eli.”
I swear, I wasn’t gone for 30 seconds.
I found the nurse and was in the middle of my unnecessary question when we heard a loud crash. The floor shook a little. It was so loud that the doctor stuck his head out of another room as we darted toward the room where my kids had been left alone.
Eli was lying on the floor and screaming when we arrived. There was a big knot already starting to form on the right side of his head as I scooped him up and held him close. The doctor’s chair was still spinning.
“He thought it was funny, Mom,” She said, tears starting to form in her own eyes.
“It’s okay, Honey, it was an accident,” I said.
The nurse glanced at me sideways and my eye twitched as I noticed the sign above the chair that warned parents to watch their kids. Eli continued to sob hysterically.
Just then, the doctor ran in.
“What was that?!” He asked.
“He bumped his head, but I think he’s going to be okay,” I answered.
“Let me see,” he replied as he reached for Eli.
Just as I was handing Eli to the doctor, I felt him lurch a little and then it happened. My son transformed into the child from The Exorcist and suddenly everything was moving in slow motion. There was the look of horror in the doctor’s eyes, the silent movement of the nurse’s lips as she mouthed, Oh My God, a much less savory word spewing from my mouth and then there was Emily, looking up at me in horror, speechless for the first time that day.
The doctor wretched a little as he looked down at the green slime with chunks of fruit snack that dripped down his formerly pristine white coat. We stood there for a few seconds in shock. Even Eli had stopped crying. A chunk of fruit snack plopped onto the doctor’s Cole Haan loafer and broke the silence.
We all came to at the same moment. I grabbed Eli back from the doctor as the nurse quickly helped him unbutton his coat and remove it. I pulled the wet wipes out of my bag and cleaned Eli off.
“Is he going to be okay?” Emily asked.
“He’s going to be fine,” I reassured her.
Soon, all but the smell seemed back to normal. The doctor examined Eli to make sure there was no concussion, but he decided that he should see him again in a few days just in case.
Great, I thought, another trip to the eye doctor!
When he was finished, we packed up our things, proceeded to checkout, and headed for the car. Emily skipped and chattered while Eli tried to kick her from his perch on my hip, kicking me in the process. I was too overwhelmed to notice it as more than a slight irritation.
“What’s for dinner, Mom?” she asked.
“I’m not sure yet,” I said.
My head was still pounding and I was seriously thinking that Chick fila might be the remedy.
I set Eli in his carseat and Emily climbed into the van from the same side. Eli got a hard kick in while Emily was walking past. I saw the whole thing and had already grabbed for Eli’s leg to hold it still when Emily yelled, “Mom, he kicked me!”
She pushed him, and he began flailing his arms at her in an attempt to hit her, but he hit me instead which made me release his leg. His foot came flying up and hit me square in the jaw and for a second I saw a flash of light. Both kids were crying and trying to hit each other, my head was pounding, Emily was yelling to Eli about something I couldn’t even hear anymore and on top of all of it was the lingering stench of vomit.
All at once, I was done. I was completely overwhelmed. I put my hands up to my pounding temples and screamed. Both kids stopped, turned, and gaped at me. They had never heard Mom do that before. But I wasn’t finished.
“Shut up!” I yelled, “Just shut up!”
“Shut up” was not allowed in our home. Even Eli knew that. The kids had never heard me say those words except to tell them that they were not allowed to say them. Shocked, confused, bewildered, they were, but they were quiet for a few blessed seconds. And then, out of the silence inside my throbbing head came my own calm and removed voice, interrupting like a narrator saying,
Said the crazy mom.
The evil spell was broken. I giggled a little to myself and drove my silent angels to the Chick fila drive thru for dinner.