It’s that time of year again for wrapping up loose ends before I venture into my 9th year of teaching. I look at that and can’t believe it’s been that long. Of course, two of those years were concurrent (I had two teaching jobs at the same time). But, since all of my employers have considered that as two separate years of teaching, then so do I. Regardless of the logistics, this time of year is, to me, like that final week in December is for most people. The year is coming to an end. Another one is beginning. It’s weird being a teacher because I measure time on a different scale. Whereas many people use that final week of Christmas vacation to schedule doctors appointments because, perhaps, their insurance coverage might be changing; I use the final week of summer vacation to take my kids to the doctor. That is, of course, because they too are getting ready to go back to school.
This morning it was time to visit the pediatrician for a routine check-up. Ever have one of those mornings as a dad where things are just not going your way? The kids were actually being very good for me. It’s as if they knew I hadn’t had any coffee or that Mommy had woken me up at 9:15 and said “Hey, honey? I need you to stop by my mom’s house to print something before their appointment.” And I responded “What time is their appointment?” And she replied “10.” And you just knew it was a lost cause trying to shower so you brushed your teeth and hoped you didn’t look like hell presenting your kids as a model of good health to a judgmental doctor? Yeah, today was one of those days. Actually the doctor, as always seems to be the case, didn’t actually make an appearance until the end of the visit. The physicians assistant took most of the information. Just as I suspected, the kids are healthy as horses (healthy horses, I mean, not sick horses). And just as cute, too! They thoroughly delighted the PA with their antics.
Where was I going with all this? Well, the doctor came in, took a look, and said “Everything’s great.” I pointed out to him that my son needed to have a vision and hearing check. Funny how you have to do everything for these doctors… A few minutes later a lovely nurse was in the room checking my son’s hearing. My daughter, sitting in my lap, observed with great delight as the nurse put a device in my son’s ear and instructed him to raise his hand whenever he heard a beep. “Daddy, he looks like an elephant…” She was right and we both laughed for a bit. Then came time for his vision test. The thing is, for kids, they don’t bring out the chart with letters topped by an oversized “E”. Instead, they use pictures. It only took a few moments before my son had the nurse in stitches with his vocabulary. “OK, sweetie, tell me what these pictures these are.” My son stopped and focused. He was being very grown up and professional considering earlier in the morning he had run stark naked through the house while I hunted him down waving a pair of size 6 plaid boxers yelling “I will find you and when I do you better hope you have these shorts on that hiney, little man!” Never mind the obvious fact that it would be impossible for him to be wearing the shorts I was chasing him with. He covered his left eye with his hand, cleared his throat, and said as matter-of-factly as possible: “That’s a house. That’s a heart. Um, that’s a crescent.” Here’s where I noticed the nurse darting her eyes back and forth between the chart and my son. Then she burst out into laughter. “OK, hon, some kids call it the moon but we’ll go with crescent. Go on, sweetiepie.” “Um, that’s a… crucifix?” Sensing his hesitation, the nurse clarified “Oh yeah, I can see that. Let’s go with plus sign, ok?” Needless to say, he’s 20/20.
After dinner I gave them their bath. They gave me a hard time. Why wouldn’t anybody want to be clean? I don’t get this. To make them laugh I resorted to an old sight gag. I took the clothes I had just removed from my son (who was giving me a particularly hard time) and piled them on, well, on my head. I burst into the bathroom and yelled “Argh! I be a pirate!” Sonny laughed. Baby Girl looked up at me, paused with a quizzical look on her face. I think for a second she thought about trusting that I really was a pirate on the strength of my word but realized that something was amiss. “You don’t have a eyepatch…”