A new pediatrician for Noah. Thanks to the social-worky finagling of my social worker sister.
Noah’s sooooo awesome (his verdict) Tantine (auntie):
“Tantine’s like me, she really really likes food. Eating is one of the best things ever. Yeah.”
“I don’t know why dad, but I love it sooooo much at Tantine’s.”
“I have a great family, dad, really! Especially Tantine!”
Yup. Tantine is awesome.
Pediatricians are rare and generally have full patient lists. We got on this doctor’s list because my sister took advantage of a visit with her kid to do a “Tantine” … a mix of professional social work skills and personal charm to negotiate a good outcome for everybody.
This doctor is middle-aged which means he’s both old enough to be experienced and young enough to be Noah’s physician for the next ten years. He was trained by Noah’s first doctor in Montréal. Doctor Grandbois was one of the grand old pediatricians of the city. A lovely man and wonderful teacher who created a whole generation of caring doctors. He died of cancer a few years ago, leaving hundreds of families and colleagues, bereft.
“Dad, dad, is this his house?”
“No, it’s a doctor’s office.”
“Sucks as an office.”
He’s used to modern industrial clinics.
“I like it. More human.”
“Hum.” He reserves judgment.
Our progress up a short flight of steps is impeded by a really old wooden barrier.
“A barrier to stop kids from falling down the stairs.”
“It’s so dumb, look I can open it with like no effort.”
“Nine and a half.”
I control the sudden desire to whack him on the side of the head.
“Exactly. You’re not two years old.”
“Even when I was like one and a half, I coulda figured this one out, dad.”
I glance at my watch. 3 o’clock. Had to take him out of school for his first checkup with the new doctor. I guess this is the Noah that his teachers have to deal with in the last class. Brilliant, verbose, punctilious, supercilious, arrogant.
His teachers are saints.
I begin filling out the new patient form. I call Tantine because she’ll remember his weight and length at birth even though he’s my kid and we were six thousand kilometers apart.
“He was a real porker, remember?”
I remember all right. But not the details. I remember being shocked at the size of his testicles. He was all head and balls. Quite a destiny, I thought to myself.
“Dad, can I talk to Tantine?”
“No, Noah, not now.”
“Do your homework reading.”
He rumbles and grumbles and hisses and pffff’s … just low enough that intervening would make more noise and loud enough that it annoys only me.
I try to remember everything I need to discuss with the doctor: chronic nasal congestion, chronic stomach cramps, his new ADHD diagnosis, his Mother’s schizophrenia…
He leans in to whisper, but he’s loud.
“That girl she’s like, she’s an adult. I thought you told me this was like a doctor only for kids.”
His voice has that bitchy confrontational tone.
The girl looks up and smiles.
“She’s probably 17 or 18, still a kid.” Funny if it was 3 am she could be my prey, or I could be hers.
“Boy, like that suckish barrier really looks dumb now.”
I look down at his 133cm. He’s pleased with his wit… as he should be. I ruffle his hair.
“I love you, dad.”
“I love you too, kid.”
Nobody..not mother, not father, nor syblings, nor lovers, have told me they loved me with such frequency and sincerity as my boy.
The visit with the doctor is wonderful. He speaks directly to Noah, asking him questions about his health, his age, his school, everything. Big boy answers with poise and accuracy. I only need to intervene to specify a certain date.
I like this man talking to my little man.
Then the actual physical examination. He palpates Noah’s glands and then his gonads.
He asked permission before he did.
How funny. The female pediatrician we had as a stopgap never checked his nether realm.
“Perfect health. The postnasal leakage is gone. Smart as a whip, thin and in great shape. You’re doing great Noah.”
We set up a follow up for the ADHD in six weeks.To analyze possible medication.
As we walk to the bus stop, I’m serene. A guy taking care of a guy being raised by a guy.
A ballsy proposition.
“Dad, can I call Tantine to tell her about something?”
Ballsy guys and strong women. Perfect.
“Sure, when we get home.”
“Yaaaayyyyy. I love you dad.”
“I love you, Noah.”