Waiting for the pediatrician

Mar 4, 2008 at 3:00 a.m. ET

A few days ago, when I had all three kids in the pediatrician's office waiting for word on three rapid strep tests, the boys and I gave each other a look. Yes, it was time. Time for a rousing game of tongue depressor baseball.

Like most moms, I've spent my fair share of time in the exam room at the pediatrician's office with sick kids. Sometimes the kids are really quite sick and subdued, sometimes the visit is mostly precautionary. This day, I hoped, was one of those mostly precautionary visits – my kids were feeling more bored than symptomatic even while my gut instinct was telling me differently. I admit I can overreact a bit over my kids' health; I'm definitely a "better safe than sorry" mom. I have my reasons for this. But because of it, we've spent our fair share of time waiting for the doctor, and have developed some coping strategies accordingly.

One day a couple years ago, waiting on the doctor, Alfs and Woody got into the tongue depressors and cotton balls and began to try to hit the cotton balls with the tongue depressors like it was baseball. I didn't quite know whether to make them stop or join in the fun. It seemed like they really weren't hurting anything and our pediatrician has a pretty good sense of humor, so I chose the later. We each took our turn at bat, and each "pitching."

Hitting a cotton ball like that is much harder than it looks. Quality of hits are extremely variable. Since it's so hard to just hit the darn thing, hitting is really the only goal of the game. There are no bases to run, no outs to make, just hits. The most number of hits wins. Even Sunshine can play – and it does tend to perk up even the most lethargic of sick kids.

While this has been a fun diversion for us, I can see that it would not go over as well in some doctors' offices. Our primary pediatrician is just a giant child himself, but some of his colleagues in the practice would look down their noses a bit at our created and creative self-entertainment. We're careful not to get destructive and limit ourselves to one tongue depressor and three cotton balls.

These few moments of waiting in the doctor's office, oddly, are some of the increasingly rare times my kids seem to be totally relaxed together and to enjoy one another. They laugh together. I've learned to take these moments where I can.

And those three rapid strep tests? All positive. Maybe I wasn't overreacting after all.

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