Kids have a way of being honest. Too honest. Like when you’re at the doctor’s office with them and all you really want to do is lie.
We were there for a regular check-up and a few shots so that my son could start school next year. It had been about three years since his last visit so all of this was new to him. His questions came in rapid fire format.
“Why do the sick people have to sit on the other side of this room?”
“When are they going to call us?”
“Why is that lady in the corner cursing and what is Obamacare?”
A nurse entered the waiting area and called us to come back. She weighed my son and measured his height. She drew his blood and gave him a few tests to check his vision and hearing. Everything was going swimingly. Swimingly is British for good. Everything was going good.
While we waited for the doctor, there were more questions.
“Dad, why do they have a red X over a picture of a phone?”
“Because they don’t want you to use your phone in this room.”
“Because it’s rude.”
There was a pause.
“So why are you using your phone?”
They’re so cute at that age, aren’t they?
Finally, the doctor came in. This time, he was the one with all of the questions.
“Is he eating normal?”
“Is he sleeping okay?”
“Do you use a car seat?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
Now please sign our paper so I can grab my phone and my little Pharisee and get out of here.
Not so fast.
“When he rides his bike, does he wear a helmet?”
That was a tough one. The answer wasn’t tough. That was the easy part. No. No he doesn’t wear a helmet, Mr. Doctor. Since when are kids supposed to wear helmets? The tough part was trying to figure out a way to tell the doctor no in a way that sounded like yes. Quickly, I came up with a solution. I lied.
“Yes. Yes he does wear a helmet when he rides his bike. In fact, he even wears his helmet when he brushes his teeth, which he does five times a day. He also wears one during our regular family blood pressure screenings. Yes, he does wear a helmet, doctor. Next question.”
While I was saying yes, my son was saying something else. Without speaking. It’s called nonverbal communication. That’s when you somehow manage to say a lot without ever saying a word. His head was moving from left to right. He was saying no.
The doctor heard him loud and clear. He took his folder and lightly hit my son on the back of the head. I was afraid I would be next.
“If you fall off of your bike, it will hurt more than that just did. Are you going to wear a helmet from now on?”
More nonverbal communication from my little rule-keeper. This time he shook his head up and down. Yes.
I received a message of my own. Never lie in the doctor’s office. They have ways of finding you out. Even if they have to turn your own son against you.
While we waited on the nurse to come in and dismiss us, a foul odor filled the room. It was all my fault. My wife told me to stop. My son joined in on the rebuke.
“Yeah, dad. What are you going to do if the nurse walks in with it stinking like this?”
I paused to consider the lesson I had just learned about lying at the doctor’s office.
“I’ll just tell her that you did it.”
Old habits die hard.