After Michael's very successful dentist appointment on Monday, Karen made a comment to me about how it's not uncommon that the appointments you worry about go well, and the ones you don't worry about go poorly. Prophetic words, Karen.
Looking back, I should have known something was up yesterday morning. Michael woke up at 6:00, which normally means he up for the day, and asked me to tuck him back in. I was happy to get 45 more minutes of sleep so while I noted it was odd, I didn't think it meant much.
Once we did get up, Michael wanted to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He hasn't been into that show for months, but I guess all of our Disney talk revived his interest. We watched an episode. The next show was Special Agent Oso, and Michael was ticked. He insisted that he be able to watch another episode. I guess with On Demand and DVDs, he hasn't completely figured out that you can't always choose what you want to watch whenever you want. This would not have been a problem but the stupid cable company was having problems and On Demand wasn't working. Therefore, no Mickey Mouse.
Michael had a meltdown over it. It was a decent meltdown, but certainly not a crazy meltdown. A tad unusual, but not enough for me to take notice.
At 10:00 we headed to the Pediatrician for Michael's 4 year tune up. He was in a good mood and got into the car willingly. However, in the ten minute drive to the office, something flipped a switch. In fact, it flipped the switch from "tantrum" to "thermonuclear meltdown". Only I didn't know it at that point.
I coerced him into the waiting room and he quickly sat down and started playing with their toys. He played nicely until 10:30 when they finally called on Michael. (I can't wait to talk to my neighbor to find out if it was J who got them backed up to begin with. I sort of hope so in light of the rest of the appointment.)
Michael refused to go in. Flat out refused. After running from me and hiding, I finally caught him and took him back to the exam room. He was crying. I was trying to distract him and calm him down. That's when the nurse walked in and asked him to take his shoes off and get on the scale.
Boom! The trigger was hit and Michael went off. And I mean he WENT OFF! I'm not talking sobbing and pouting. I'm talking full bore, 100% ballistic. The boy completely lost his shit. He screamed. He cried. He kicked. He hit. He started smacking my chest rapidly as he spiraled out of control. It was bad.
Now, if we had not been at the doctor's office and I was not concerned about wasting her time, my normal response to this would have been to pick him up, restrain his arms, and leave. It was not acceptable behavior, and normally I would have taken a very different approach to handling it.
What the nurse saw was a mother with an out of control child that was physically attacking her. She attempted to help...which just spun him up more, and then finally left to let me get things under control. I was able to get him calmed down and she came back and took the various measurements while Michael sniffled. She asked me if I had any issues I wanted to discuss and I mentioned our potty training problems and the tummy aches he's been complaining about. She left.
When the doctor came in, she started asking about how Michael eats, and I explained his lack of variety. He response quickly turned into a lecture on what I need to start to do with Michael to get him under control. It started off with very stern talk about how I should not give him choices at dinner and that he just gets to go without dinner until he starts eating. Then she branched out into other areas. It was all very good advice, but her stern and authoritative tone really pushed my buttons. She dismissed any idea that Michael is more persistent than other children and basically put it all back onto my failure to provide structure and constancy.
So, I cried.
Let me just say that if you've never had your kid freak out and beat on you in the pediatrician's office, been lectured on your parenting, and then broken down in tears yourself, it pretty much sucks rotten eggs. Stinky, slimy rotten eggs.
After her little advice session, the doctor then turned to Michael for the exam. Do I need to explain how well that went over? No, I didn't think so.
After speaking calmly and sternly to him she finally sent me out of the room so she could get him under control and demonstrate how it's done. I stood out in the hall, sniffling, and listened as he worked her over for another 15 minutes. Is it wrong that I got some smug satisfaction out of listening to him do to her exactly what he does to me? Is it wrong that I enjoyed the fact that it took her longer to calm him than it takes me? Is it wrong that I was happy to see her hair was disheveled when I finally came back in?
I pretty much don't care if it's wrong. It felt good. I did at least refrain from saying, "See, I told you so" when she commented on the workout he gave her. Yeah, you try dealing with that all the time lady. It's exhausting.
The rest of the appointment went pretty well. As is typical, once Michael worked it out of his system, he was fine. He was great through the exam, great through his audio and visual tests, and great through his one shot. We left 2 hours after entering the office both thoroughly wiped out. We need to go back in 6 weeks because he didn't respond to several audio cues in his right ear. They were all very quiet cues and it's likely the result of the cold he's just now getting over.
Just to add icing to the cake, Michael and I had a little accident while we were outside playing in the afternoon. I reached down to point at a sidewalk chalk picture when Michael stepped forward. He managed to kick the nail on my left middle finger and partly pulled the nail off. It caused blinding pain and a decent amount of blood. It's bad enough that even 24 hours later, it's still throbbing.
When Andy got home, I told him I had an awful day and needed to take a nap. I bawled my eyes out for 15-20 minutes before finally drifting off for about 20 minutes.
So, now that I've had time to reflect on this, I'm not sure how I feel about it all. Do I think that the doctor was out of line? I don't normally feel that pediatricians should get involved with unsolicited parenting advice, but based on the fact that Michael was hitting me, I think it was appropriate. To be honest, I am tired, I do feel that Michael has too much control, and I was going to ask for advice, so I don't really think she was out of line. Her approach may not have been the best with someone like me, but then again, I don't think most people are quiet as contrary and high strung as I am. She couldn't possibly know that based on the few visits we have had with her.
I'm trying to be as objective as possible in considering her advice. Am I only making excuses for Michael's behavior or is he really that challenging? It's a fair question, and the best thing I can do for myself and Michael is to answer it as honestly as possible. The fact that I routinely do everything the doctor did to calm him down leads me to think I'm not far off in my assessment of Michael's personality.
I do think that the doctor may have underestimated me a little. She talked about mommy guilt and tried to reassure me that being firm was good and that all working mommies feel guilty. While I confess, I do tend to focus heavily on Michael after work, I don't really have much mommy guilt. I don't have a problem being a working mom. It's never felt wrong to me. So, I rarely indulge Michael for that reason. I think a more realistic explanation is that ever since Michael started daycare in January our schedule has been throw to hell and Michael's been sick frequently. It's not that I'm being indulgent, I'm just too tired to fight all of the fights.
However, whatever the reason, be it guilt or exhaustion, the result is the same. Michael's sleep has gotten out of control and needs to be corrected. Potty training has stalled, and we need to suck it up and do botty camp. I also need to put an end to allowing Michael to get so much crap at the grocery store each week. There are a few more behavior things as well, but those are the biggies. I belive that the advice she provided will be helpful, since I do most of it anyway. I just need to find the energy to pull it off.
As for whether well schedule the 5 year tune up with the same doctor? I have a year to make up my mind on that. For a sick visit, I have to say that she's excellant for sick visits and I'll keep seeing her for those.