Why do people want you to say that something is okay when it clearly isn’t? I hate that, especially when it’s done in a patronizing high-handed “you know you can’t do anything about it anyway, so why don’t you just agree so that I can keep using my nice voice and we can all pretend that everything is just fine” kind of way. Which is exactly what just happened.
You see, a woman from the surgical center just called me to discuss the ear tube surgery that my son will be having next week. I am all for the ear tubes, as little J. has had a double ear infection for over a month that has resisted three courses of oral antibiotics and two antibiotic shots, and that has deprived us all of a lot of sleep and good humor. But I’m ambivalent about the actual surgery. You know, the whole thing about someone taking your child into a room where you can’t go and sticking needles in him and making him breathe gas and, for all you know, scaring the bejesus out of him. That part I’m not so keen about.
The woman from the surgical center called to tell me about what happens on the day of the surgery. There is plenty that seems, quite frankly, arbitrary and arranged for the convenience of the doctors rather than for the well-being of the patients. I don't understand why I can't carry him back to the surgery room; I don't understand why--if they insist that I can't carry him back there--that they can't give him the calming-down medicine they are going to give him BEFORE they take him from my arms so that he won't panic and freak out. But what I really don't understand is that I will not be able to see J. immediately after the surgery, and that I'm not to try to see him, (and here's the zinger) EVEN THOUGH I will hear him crying. For an unspecified amount of time ("how long?" I ask. "It depends," she says). I have to just sit there and listen, and he has to just lie there alone and cry.
"Okay?" she says in a voice she might use with a small child. "No," I say, "no, it really isn't." Because this would be hard for any parent, but I have particular concerns. I explain that my child is adopted. That, as part and parcel of his adoption process, he has experienced several traumatic and permanent separations from the people he loves. That this history will make being in the recovery room without me more traumatic than it is for children who have had the good fortune of having a consistent caretaker their entire lives. That it is important to minimize this time for him to avoid further traumatization.
All I really want is for her to say something minimally validating and accomodating, like “I can really understand those concerns and I’ll note them in his chart and make sure that we get you back there just as soon as possible.” But she does not say anything like this. First, she implies that I'm not concerned for my son's safety. Then she tells me that they have done many operations on adopted children. Which is not the point. The more she talks, the more impatient and patronizing she becomes. I can just feel what she is thinking: that I am overreacting, hysterical, unreasonable, making a big deal out of nothing; that they are medical professionals and I should just trust them and do what they say; that I’m making her late for her coffee break; and worse, that adoption doesn’t have anything to do with this anyway; and, perhaps worst of all, children don't form long-term memories at this young an age, doesn't everyone know that?