Besides keeping my practice youthful, the children I cared for kept me young as well. I hope you will enjoy a few stories about these “Little Ones” (Part 2) that are excerpted from my book, The Best Medicine: Tales of Humor and Hope from a Small-Town Doctor.
My practice partner, John Hartman, MD, and I always encouraged the young mothers in our practice to breastfeed, and we then supported them as they did so.
Barb, my wife, and Cleta, John’s wife, who taught our prenatal classes, also strongly advocated for breastfeeding. In addition, it was essential to prepare the parents with an older child or children at home for the probability of sibling rivalry.
At one well-child visit of a four-year-old boy, John entered the exam room to find the child’s mother breastfeeding her new daughter, whose four-year-old brother was sulking in the adjoining chair.
John encouraged her to continue breastfeeding and turned his attention to the older brother. “You look mad,” he observed.
“Well, Dr. John,” he responded, “I am!”
“Do you want to tell me about it?” John asked, his curiosity aroused.
The little boy furrowed his eyebrows as he planned his answer. “Well, I’m mad that my mom won’t let me share my hot dog with
my little sister.”
The mom appeared surprised, learning of her son’s feelings for the first time, and with a gentle, reassuring smile said, “Oh, honey, we can’t feed your sister a hot dog yet—”
But before she could finish, her very observant son retorted, “Well, why not? You let her eat your breast!”
The mother looked shocked while John stifled a chuckle.
When my truck was in the shop, we had only one vehicle. So after making early rounds at the hospital, I’d come home, and we would all load up in the minivan. We’d drop our daughter, Kate, off at elementary school, and after dropping me off at the office, she’d drive past Rose Hill Cemetery. Scott, our young son, secure in his car seat, would start yelling, “Mommy! Jesus and the sheep! Jesus and the sheep!”
“What did you see?” Barb would ask.
“Jesus and the sheep!” he’d exclaim.
“There!” he’d answer, pointing to the cemetery.
Seeing nothing but trees and tombstones, she would ask, “Scott, what are you talking about?”
He could only point to the cemetery as they zipped by.
One day after work, when I walked in and kissed Barb, she was giggling. “What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Today, I was driving alongside the cemetery. The traffic backed up, and I was just creeping along. I glanced to the side and noticed a road leading into the middle of the cemetery. And guess what I saw?” she asked, chuckling.
“I have no idea.”
“In the center of the cemetery, there’s a statue of Jesus surrounded by several sheep. So Scott wasn’t kidding or crazy!”
Our children were hopeful, optimistic, curious, and full of questions. They loved learning, at least in the subjects in which they were interested. They were kind, generous, lighthearted, and playful. They were like most little ones— in other words, they were everything we adults often wish we were still.
THESE STORIES ARE EXCERPTED, with the permission of Baker Publishing Group from/Revell, from my book, The Best Gift: Tales of a Small-Town Doctor Learning Life’s Greatest Lessons. You can learn more about the book or order a copy here.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2022.