Who'd have thought it, in this enlightened age?
I've been off for a while, family stuff (which I'll post more on later), hence the lack of posting. However, I've been compelled to recount my visit to the doctors yesterday morning, because it fucked me off so much.
Since I was off work yesterday, I took Jack to get his 12-week injections (pneumonia and meningitis, various others). I don't usually get the chance to do this sort of stuff, so I was looking forward to
checking out the attractive mothers in the waiting room having this time with my boy, seeing a little bit of his life that, ordinarily, I'd not get to see.
The stupid fucking doctor's surgery doesn't allow you to bring prams inside - you have to leave them out near the front door. I'll be fucked if I'm going to leave a £500 pram lying around for any cunt to nab, so instead I carried him in one of those...carrier things.
No, not a plastic bag, but a proper yoke for carrying babies that you strap to your chest, making carrying even the heaviest child an absolute doddle. Luckily, we just live ten minutes' walk from the docs, so I was only partially crippled by the time we arrived for his appointment.
Anyway, I got in, let them know we'd arrived, and took Jack out of his carrier and his little snowsuit thing. Cue Jack bawling his head off, and I can understand why; he'd been snoozing, warm and snug pressed up against me, then he was woken up by being jerked out of his cradle and disrobed without warning. I'd be pissed off too.
And fuck it, what can you do? Babies cry. There were half a dozen of the little shits* crying in there.
I spent the next few minutes doing my best to soothe him, trying not to look like a pathetic parent with no control over their child whatsoever, and then we were called in.
There were three of them in there - two nurses and a trainee. As soon as I walked into the room, I sensed a vibe. Something was not right here. They gazed at me pityingly as I sat down and bounced Jack gently on my knee, talking to him, telling him it's all ok, and so forth.
Then the questions started.
"Oh, is he ok?"
"Yeah, he's fine, he just woke up with a bit of a fright, I think."
"Awwww, poor baby! Has he been fed? He could be hungry."
"No, he just had a bottle before we left. He's not due for a couple of hours."
"Oh. Well, now, are you Jack's primary carer?"
"Well, normally I work through the week, so my wife is the primary carer. I'm off today though, so I figured I'd take him here."
"Right, right...well, are you looking after him all by yourself today?" (Do I even need to highlight the condescension in this sentence?)
"Uh, my wife's at home too."
"Oh good, well, your wife will be able to get Jack calmed down. He might just be hungry for a bottle."
FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING PATRONISING CUNT. Let's just get this shit over with, because you're starting to piss me the fuck off.
Naturally, after receiving two spikes into each thigh, Jack's state of mind was not improved, and the poor lad continued to cry as they advised what side-effects to expect (tiredness, fever, crankiness....it's not fucking rocket science, is it?), which I patiently listened to, because I understand that there are alot of people out there who don't have any idea what to expect, and besides, I'm not a dick, they do have a job to do. So I accepted all their advice with grace and humility, but then the awful, horrible cunt had to go and spoil it all by saying
"And if he does have a fever, just give him some Calpol. Have you got any Calpol at home?"
"Yeah, we've got some alright."
"Well, your wife will know what to do. If he seems to be a bit feverish, just ask her how to give him some of the Calpol."
EXCUSE ME, CUNT? WHAT THE FUCK AM I, A FUCKING SPASTIC? DO I APPEAR SEVERELY RETARDED OR OTHERWISE LACKING THE ABILITY TO FUNCTION AS A PARENT? Jesus Christ alfuckinmighty, give me strength.
I ought to point out that, on the surface, my countenance belied how I felt. On the outside, I looked calm, sincere, expectant, as I listened to them treat me like a fucking idiot who wouldn't know how to change a fucking nappy**, never mind administer medicine to an infant.
Okay, moving on. I ignore her comment about asking my wife for help giving medicine, and, in an attempt at catharsis, to dissipate my rage, and also, probably unconsciously, to point to a possible reason for why Jack's crying, I casually ask:
"What's the earliest you think a baby could start teething at?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, he drools a lot and he chews his fist all the time."
"Well, it's usually between six months and a year, but they can be as young as three months, and let's see, Jack is-"
"Three months, yeah, so I'd say it's unlikely he'd be teething yet."
"Right, that's fine, just checking. Heh."
"Would you like us to make an appointment with you to help you understand how to wean your baby?"
"No, that's okay thanks, we've got one already, so we've been through it all before. We're going to start him on solids when he gets to four months,
"Oh good, well then, your wife will be able to keep you right, and if you need any more help, just give us a call."
My wife. She's going to love hearing about this.
I don't get it. Was it just because Jack was crying, that they assumed I was a shit parent who had no idea what to do, or is this simply how they treat all fathers, as if they are slightly mentally challenged, the classic lovable oaf-like fuckwit perpetuated on a thousand tv ads as examples of your "typical" father? Either way, they came across as looking like absolute, utter cunts. I'm not trying to stir this up into a battle of the sexes, but if three men treated a woman like I was treated in that setting, she'd (rightly) go fucking berserk about it.
I'm sure the three of them thought they were being incredibly helpful, in the same way as born-again Christians think they are doing you a huge favour by letting you know how you can let the Lord into your life, but I just could not get past the condescending tone, the patronising comments about seeking assistance from my wife, the pitying looks as I tried to soothe Jack. The looks of pity on their own I could understand - it's their job to empathise with stressed parents. It's just the combination with the other things that got to me.
Unfortunately, it seems that some stereotypes continue to thrive unchallenged. So tell me: does the fact that a man, rather than a woman, is looking after a child - does this influence your behaviour towards them? Is it a commonly-held view among women that men are helpless aw-shucks idiots who do hilarious and silly things to kids such as putting their nappy/clothes on backwards, feeding them nothing but sweets and ice-cream and Coke so that when good old mum comes home they're hyper, running riot around the house?
To top it all off, Jack stopped crying the moment we left the building. Little traitor.
*Other people's kids are little shits, of course. Mine are perfect.