A Serious Child

The waiting room chatter increased and was accompanied by some quiet cooing from a previously silent old woman. Max, who had just turned seven yesterday, frowned a little at that, but then approached the woman deliberately. He stood with his back straight in a miniature version of his father’s usual uniform of crisp black pants, dress shirt, and tie, minus his father’s white coat. The tie was a little crooked because he insisted, as always, that he tie it himself. A smart and professional outfit, he thought, but it did nothing to stop the cooing that manifested every time he stepped out the door. Looking slightly up at her he asked, “Are you feeling nervous, or in any pain?”

“Well, hon, I’m a bit nervous,” She lowered her voice and leaned in to him conspiratorially, “This is my first doctor’s visit in over twenty years.”

Max nodded and, echoing her tone, asked, “Would you like me to sing you a spell, to help with nerves?”

“I’d like that very much,” She smiled.

“Please hold out your hand.” She did, and Max placed his small hand in her wrinkled one and began to sing.

The words, if they were even words, made no sense, but her shoulders relaxed and her smile broadened. When Max was silent she let out a little sigh.

“Thanks, sweetheart,” She let her hand fall from under his back down to her lap.

“You’re welcome,” And after a deliberating pause, “Don’t worry, my father is very good. If you’re sick he’ll be able to help you.”

He turned before she had a chance to reply and made his way around the waiting room, repeating his script and his songs. When he was older he would wonder if his dad had only been humoring him, letting him run around the waiting room in his little suit practicing simple spells. Or maybe it had been helpful, a distraction to people wondering if they really were as healthy as they felt, to have the ear and the hand of a child who would take all their concerns seriously.


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