After a week of being sick, with what I would describe as shards of glass and tiny knives stuck in my tonsils, I informed my family that we would all be going to the clinic. None of us were getting any better and I was tired of drinking tea and eating soup.
I missed tasting chocolate.
We crammed my daughters Dora travel case full of books, toys, puzzles and treats, charged the phone to 100%, and got ready to wait in a germ filled room with 50 other sickies.
The wait was long but not excruciating, we had stories to read, snacks to eat, and pamphlets with bums on them to talk about.
And there were other children there; some too sick to play, some upset because of discomfort, and others just bored.
One little girl in particular sat calmly with her mom; she played peek-a-boo with our daughter while her mom text on her phone and her dad tended to her baby sister. Our daughter waved at her and asked questions about why she was sick, compared their cups, and asked about “her baby.”
She was a sweet girl. Calm and quite.
And it was apparent she wasn’t feeling well.
After what seemed like hours of sitting in quiet we all heard a thud, it was then that the little girls boot fell off and she unleashed. The sweet girl who had been sitting flushed and tired on her mom’s lap became a screaming, angry toddler.
And that boot was NOT going back on.
Her, until then, quiet father tried to reason with her while her mother tried desperately to secure it back onto her tiny foot.
Why can’t she just take her boot off?
I looked to Brian in desperation and saw the “don’t meddle” look staring back at me.
The little girls’ father held her close and tried to reason with her, he rocked her back and forth, asking her to please put her boot on. His exhaustion was apparent.
He continued to focus on her footwear when his little girl began to thrash on the floor.
Her face was fevered, she was tired, wasn’t feeling well, and she was frustrated.
I could relate to these parents and wanted so badly to help them.
Dismissing my husband’s warning glances I started to get up to see if there was anything I could do, when suddenly, the receptionist at the desk came out and stood over top of the little girl.
Staring directly at the mother she demanded the tiny toddler stop banging.
It was distracting her.
The room fell silent.
My entire body felt hot.
The receptionist couldn’t concentrate?
I looked at my husband and his wide open mouth.
We stared at each other for what seemed like forever trying to piece together what had just happened. Why was no one helping this family? How come they were all sitting idly by while a mother struggled with her sick child?
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been that mother.
My husband squeezed my hands and mouthed the words, “go.”
I stood up and walked quickly to the receptionist’s window as the mother gathered her children’s things.
As I waited for my turn I could see her frazzled face, her very sick daughter, and her embarrassment. I turned towards her and told her that the receptionist was wrong to say those things, that WE didn’t feel that way.
When the receptionist asked me what I needed I spoke up… I spoke out.
I let her know that her words to the mother were inappropriate, that the little girl was sick and that’s why she was there. Telling a mother to keep her child quiet in a Clinic was ridiculous, she was just a little girl! I suggested that if the noise was bothering her she should plug her ears and informed her that I was appalled by her behaviour.
She did nothing but agree.
But the mother had left.
As parents, friends, by-standers, community members, and just people in general it is so important that we learn to stand up for one another. Not ONE person spoke up when this woman was brought down by the receptionist.
Understanding when another person is struggling is called empathy; have we lost that?
My heart hurts for that mother and for her little girl who may not have gotten care because of a heartless receptionist who should be putting care first, but did not.
Build each other up, don’t tear each other down. If you see injustice, insult, bullying, and/or someone struggling help them.
It won’t hurt you.
And it will help them.