Wish You Were Here: A Short Guide to Surviving the Longest 20 Minutes of Your Life with a Toddler

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I can’t hear out of my right ear. My left ear? Not so hot either. And my son? I’m pretty sure his ears are just fine, although the jury’s still out on his lungs.

It’s been somewhere in the ballpark of 45 seconds since we pulled into the pediatrician’s parking lot and already he’s pitching such a tyrannical tantrum, I’m surprised no one’s called Child Services or offered me a stiff drink. I could really use one. Maybe crowdfunding for a nice little Doctor’s Pediatrics bar cart could be next on the town’s feel-good list. I’m even thinking of a signature mocktail … something along the lines of a Side (will I ever be able to get this child out of the) Car with a Twist (as in my sciatica) while I strong-arm him out of the car seat; and why is it at this exact moment there’s always some beautiful blonde woman who doesn’t look a day over 30 and a pound over 110, effortlessly swooping her docile tot out of a pristine Prius and all with a latte in her hand.

I don’t do well with “well” visits. It’s a real scream, I’ll tell ya. Right up there with a trip to the DMV and pretty much all of my memories attending mass and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Healow app that I still can’t manage to get working.

No one prepares you for this shit. Like maybe, instead of carting that home ec egg around or one of those Baby Alive dolls, you could just have your teen bring my toddler to his 2-year-old checkup. Truly, at this moment I can’t conceive of better birth control. It’s like somehow (and don’t ask me how), he knows he’s getting a shot. Somehow, the minute I put the car into park and phone in the next 40 minutes of my life wishing I were stranded on some deserted island with that mocktail and Milo. “You got this,” he whispers in my good ear; it dawns on Junior … this is where Nurse Needle lives.

I can’t say enough good things about the entire staff at Doctor’s Pediatrics. They all deserve scream-free time and a round of sidecars for the shit they put up with, especially Dr. Macken. So here’s to the ladies (not who lunch — I’m pretty confident there’s like zero time for that) but bring lollipops and bandage lacerations … raise your glass.

A Toast to (the Terrible) Two’s Visit to the Pediatrician

(Or, A Short Guide to Surviving The Longest 20 Minutes of Your Life)

  • Put the car in park. This may seem redundant or patronizing but so is parenting.
  • No sudden movements. When possible, speak in a quiet, calming voice. Think lions at the zoo. Uncaged.
  • Do not, under any circumstances make eye contact or even look in the direction of the pretty Prius blonde. This will inevitably make you feel old, overweight and wishing you had the good sense to bring a voodoo doll along.
  • Walk briskly and with purpose, like you’re in a not-so-safe neighborhood late at night where they also happen to have lots of hypodermic needles and reasons to wash your hands.
  • Know that every person you were expecting a call from and every person you weren’t, from your mother to (we’ll call her Marty) who’s been trying to get in touch with you from credit card services somewhere in a tent in Cameroon will call during those 20 minutes.
  • Be forewarned that the floor is swarming with apex predators, at least according to your toddler who you are absolutely holding the entire time in case you were wondering and yes, your arms will ache later.
  • Taking blood from a toddler is a little like taking blood from a stone, only worse because the stone actually, you know, sits still.
  • Expect a call from Birth to Three because you definitely did not follow straight across on that whole developmental checklist thing and your child is waaaaay the eff behind, in case there was any question. Um, ya failed.
  • If there was any wavering doubt in your mind before as to the status of your BMI, rest assured the whole “let’s weigh you first with Junior, Mom…and now without” definitely tipped the scale not in your favor.
  • You will spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to coddle and placate the equivalent of an iguana on crack. The book you brought along, that cute little taxi picture hanging on the wall, the industrial size superflow maxi pad your child will whip out of your purse and adhere to his own forehead at the exact moment the doctor walks in will do nothing, I repeat nothing to distract him from the fact that that needle is coming toward him, and just when you think it can’t get any worse, you remember — he has a dentist appointment tomorrow.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.