The waiting room

Shep writingEvery Tuesday Shep-man goes to physical therapy for a mild gross motor delay. It’s subtle, you probably wouldn’t notice it unless you were a professional, or his momma. He’s stronger on one side of his body than the other, and he’s been this way since he was a baby. Lots of preemies have similar issues; Shep went to PT off an on in Dallas for at least a year and a half. After the pool accident, getting Shep back in physical therapy was one of the first things I did. His body was weak from being in bed for so long, and doctors told me if Shep had any damage from his injury it may show up as a physical delay first.  I figured I’d rather meet any possible delays head on rather then wait for them to surface. A few weeks ago we added in occupational therapy since he recently tested behind in some fine motor skills….we’re cramming as much in as we can to give him a leg up before he starts Pre-K and while it’s still fun. (Shep only knows that he’s going to play with his friend Robin.)

Showing up at the OKC waiting room for outpatient therapy is one of my favorite things I do with Shep and tag-along Charlotte.  I mean, it’s not super fun to wait around with crazy Charlotte, but as a parent, I like going to PT because it’s anyone’s guess who you will see in the waiting room. We see a lot of people, all ages, all backgrounds, all needing therapy of some sort, like us. Speech, physical, occupational. We meet older patients who are re-habbing a knee and other preemie kids, doing therapy for similar reasons we are. We meet children with autism, children in wheelchairs, people with walkers, or one leg. Since Shep and Char aren’t in real school yet, we don’t have a ton of exposure to these kinds of things, and time in the waiting room is good for all three of us.

If you have an enormously outgoing little boy, the waiting room is a crash course in handling the occasional awkward question or conversation started by said four-year old. I love that Shep gets to meet people who may initially not look or act just like he does.  Some of the people we see in the waiting room are friendly,  we know them by name, conversations come easily. Some less so.  As Shep’s mom, I gain experience facilitating questions by Shep if he happens to point out anything about anybody that he finds question-worthy. For example, after receiving a complement on his blond hair, Shep reciprocated by asking the older woman why her hair was white. Another time, he told a teenage boy just how much he liked his higher voice, when I’m 90% sure the boy was going to speech therapy for that exact reason. Shep has learned when he talks to a child that looks his age, the child may not be able to respond in the same way. My favorite was when Shepherd shared a time slot with a boy in a wheel chair and a trachea tube. This little guy couldn’t talk much on his own, and his limbs appeared shorter than they needed to be for walking.  But he was always happy and outgoing and so were the people who helped him get around. The first time Shep saw him, he had lots of questions. If I’m honest I got nervous when I first saw who we were sharing a waiting room with. I knew Shep would blast me with questions and I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to field them all. But they were innocent enough, and I answered them as best I could. We saw the same boy a few visits ago, we all walked in the building together. Shepherd greeted him by name, and this time only noticed the boy’s socks. They had Cars characters on them. Shep liked them, told the boy so, and then repeatedly reminded me how he had the same kind of socks as his waiting room friend which he thought was pretty cool. Shep is noticing differences less and less the more he visits the waiting room. I like that.

Small talk with the parents is my favorite part. Like me, they are there every week, watching the progress of their own little people.  It reminds me that I’m lucky to be dealing with a mild motor skill delay. Most of these parents have a much tougher road to walk than I do, and they walk it every day. It’s humbling, and I rarely leave without feeling grateful.

I wish every kid and their parents got a chance to spend an hour or two in the Jim Thorpe waiting room. I think it’s been as good for me as it has for little man. If we get to a point where we can stop doing PT and OT,  I’ll be pumped Shep has reached his goals…  but I’ll kind of miss the waiting room.

One thought on “The waiting room

  1. I really enjoyed reading this and hearing your thoughts! I only know the waiting room from a speech therapist’s point of view. I’m always curious about the friendships that form and the interactions that take place before I arrive to take a client back. 🙂

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