Adventures at the Allergist

I am a good parent, or so I like to think, and so in the spirit of good parenting I decided to suck it up and take the kids to the allergist for an evaluation. Of particular concern was Jordan's chronic cough and extreme irritability, and Maya's patchy skin problems. I looked these things up and asked around, and eventually their pediatrician referred us to a place in Yakima of high repute.

The day started unconscionably early. By six in the morning the whole family was loaded in the Honda, and cruising the unholy breakfast joint better known as McDonald's. We do not make a habit of going to McDonald's but there was no time for rice chex, so there we were, hitting the road with a sack of Egg McMuffins.

For this reason, things got off on the wrong foot. Let's not even get into the way that Egg McMuffins collapse into separate chunks of egg and sausage that tend to spring toward the hairy automotive carpet, causing distress. Soon after wrangling with her McMuffin, Maya began to whine in the back seat and continued until we parked at the allergist's office. I was just unbuckling her when she made a funny sound, a funnier face, and proceeded to barf into her coat.

The rest of the morning the child smelled lightly of egg and vomit, but the nurses were polite enough not to mention it.

But that was only the beginning. Jordan is no fan of the doctor. What I mean to say is, if by the power of his will he could explode the doctor's office, we would all be in smithereens. His cooperation was poor. When the nurse asked him to get on the scale, he slumped like a bag of flour. We had to prop him up next to the height measurement tool and guess at his height before he sagged to the ground. Cheerfully the nurse tried to coax him into blowing into a tube to measure his lung capacity, but made the strategic error of comparing it to a birthday candle--and we all know Jordan doesn't do birthdays. He clapped his hands over his mouth and wouldn't remove them, not even after watching Scott and I puff on the thing about a hundred times, pretending to be ecstatic about the process.

Meanwhile, Maya played with her toys and hummed.

Things took another turn when the doctor came in and tried to go over his evaluation. Jordan was jumpy and nervous and distracting. Within two minutes she informed us, the wayward parents, that our no must mean no and our yes must mean yes.

Then she told us that Jordan has a sinus infection and has probably had it for most of his life. Thus the chronic cough and the irritability.

Moving forward, it was time for the scratch test. Maya went first. She said, and I quote, "Ouch!" Then I took her into the waiting room, and Scott was left with Jordan.

The boy sounded, from the waiting room, like an air raid siren. Other patients in the waiting room gave me nervous sympathetic looks.

By the time I was called back in, he was in full meltdown. There was no approaching him. He was on the floor, contorted with rage and misery. He couldn't be touched or talked to or managed in any way; he just had to spin himself out. So we shouted back and forth over him to the doctor.

She said, "Neither of them have any allergies." I was very surprised by this, and pleased. Then she said, "You two need to take a parenting class." I was surprised by this also, but not pleased. She pointed at my flailing offspring. "This," she said, and not kindly either, "is not normal. You need to get control of your child. Your no," she said, "has to mean no."

She went on to tell us that Jordan needs a child psychologist. Much too stressed out, she said. Mind you, she has never before seen my child, who was at the very height of a stressful experience. But it did it occur to me to tell her to put it in her hat? No. In fact, I burst into tears: just a little more evidence that this family needed some Nanny 911.

For this, Scott took a night off work, we had our kids poked with a needle a collective 36 times, and will be billed hundreds of dollars, after the insurance. To hear that my kid is a wreck. Oh, and he has a sinus infection that has probably been causing him chronic pain all the days of his poor precious little life. And let's not forget what No has to mean.

But there's always a silver lining. We are free of the specter of food allergies. We went home and had grilled cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise to celebrate.

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