Her three-year-old nephew threw a temper tantrum on the family room sofa kicking his little feet, using all of his energy to scream, his face red and wet with tears. All this drama because his father had gone out to pack the car without him.
It reminded her of an experience she had with her own three year old a long time ago.
They were living above a storefront that housed an electronics store, built in 1905. Large casement windows let in lots of light and in the dining room, directly below the windows, was a beautiful wooden window seat. Dark wood columns and built in bookcases accented the apartment.
It was the dead heat of mid-August, the kind of sticky hot that everyone has forgotten now that air conditioning is the norm. A long stairway led from the street up to the flat and an acquaintance, came up the stairs with his dog on a leash, which he held tightly next to his body. A Border collie mix of some kind, she noticed the dog panted heavily as they entered the apartment.
Her daughter stood between the sofa and the round wood cable used as a coffee table. It only took seconds, but as she stepped toward the dog, he lunged at her, biting her above the nose, right between the eyes. The leash prevented any more damage and because he had punctured the skin initially, very little blood appeared.
The emergency room doctor examined her and explained that she needed stiches and to do that they would restrain her in a device looked like a papoose. Tired out from screaming after the attack, the little girl sat on the examining table quietly sobbing like toddlers do, taking in deep gasps of air in between. The mother asked to explain the procedure to her child.
The doctor sniffed at her, “Don’t bother trying to use logic with a three year old; it’s a waste of everyone’s time.” His look indicated his patience had run out, and he firmly ordered the mother, “Wait outside. We’ll get you when we are done.” They began putting her in the contraption and the mother saw the fear in her daughter’s eyes and desperately tried to explain as they removed her from the room.
The mother wouldn’t take that from a doctor today, but her then 22-year-old self stood obediently in the waiting area and heard her child scream for her for an interminable amount of time. The worst sound she had ever heard. What kind of a mother allows this to happen to her child? Would she remember this and hate her? Would she forgive herself for allowing a doctor to order her away from her child?
As she watches her sister-in-law pick up the sobbing boy and speak softly to him, she wants to say, “Good for you. Some may underestimate how much logic a three year old can understand.”