Monday, July 2, 2012

No Running...And No More Happiness!

She was a probably a nice old lady, in her purple smock, volunteering at the hospital, and she probably doesn't understand just why I became so defensive. I'm not sure that I fully know either, only that she was concerned with rules and not people, and that I felt judged.

She didn't know that I had woken early to prepare the bags and driven 1 1/2 hours in the damp morning heat with my 5 children for my daughter's nephrology appointment. She didn't know that my children had sat still for that time, then been reined in for another hour of quiet, controlled behavior in the doctor's office, then sat still and ate with their heads over the table so as not to drop crumbs in the hospital atrium. She didn't know that I had first asked my children not to run when they got up from lunch, but I had reconsidered.

The atrium was empty. Not a soul sat at the four tables around us in the corner of the first floor lobby. Across the lobby visitors occasionally came in the doors and stopped to speak to the volunteer greeters. Realizing how incredibly well my children had behaved all morning, and taking into account the 1 1/2 hour drive in the 92 degree heat ahead of us, I permitted them to run laps around our lunch table. They skipped and laughed and ran in a very calm and orderly manner, for four little kids. No one screamed or pushed. We weren't near anything breakable. We bothered no one. I think we actually brightened a few sick people's day. Nothing like pure smiles and giggles and exercise for medicine.

When she came, in her purple smock, and looked condescendingly on us; when she cleared her throat and called out loudly, "Excuse me!" then declared again for no apparent reason, "Excuse me!" I first felt like a kindergartener caught running in the lunchroom, and then I felt angry. "There is no running in the hospital!" she called firmly.

I thought all the way home about how I could have responed at that moment. But at that moment I just reacted. "We have an hour-and-a-half drive ahead of us. They're kids, they need to wiggle sometimes," I said calmly, but a little disgusted. "They're not bothering anyone."

"Well, I'm just a hospital volunteer telling you the hospital rules," she retorted.

I thought to myself, Well let's just let beurocracy take over our common-sense!  I thought to myself, Do you have any idea that this is the only bright spot in my children's 6-hour trip to the doctor today? And possibly the only bright spot today for that old guy in the chair over there who was enjoying watching us? Does it make you feel more important or more valuable to come and enforce rules that don't benefit anyone, but only harm them in this particular case? I thought about calling out to my kids, OK kids, back to the hot van, where I can strap you down so you won't cause any more disruption to this lady's pleasantly boring day! And wipe those smiles off your faces! Who knows what rucus further happiness could lead to?!

But I quietly finished wiping my crumbs and called my kids to leave without even looking at her further. She was a probably a nice old lady, in her purple smock, volunteering at the hospital, and she probably doesn't understand just why I became so defensive. But I guess that's it, she didn't understand us: beurocracy before people happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves. But maybe I'm being too hard on her.

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