An Open Letter To the Lady Who Sat Near Us at Children’s Hospital

Dear Grandma,

Remember me? You, your daughter and grandchild sat at the next table from us in the Children’s Hospital cafeteria last week. My almost three year old son had a temper tantrum. It was because he didn’t want to share his pizza and yet didn’t want to eat it, although the real reason was that he was overtired.
He was screaming. I was ignoring his temper tantrum. You turned to me and said “Can you do something about your child?”
I turned to you and I explained, “He’s throwing a fit.” Did I need more of an explanation?
“We’re trying to eat here,” you explained. “Will you please do something about your child?”
I did not reply. I didn’t feel the need to point out how a cafeteria in a place that has a sign outside that says “Children’s Hospital” is probably not an ideal place to have a quiet lunch, especially after you choose a seat next to our big family. You honestly shocked me so much that I didn’t even say anything else. I didn’t know how to reply to you without using bad words at that specific moment, so I said nothing. I did pack up the children, four of them with me at the time, and moved ourselves mid-lunch to outside, lest we disturb you some more. Outside, my son quieted down and then threw another tantrum over something new. A CHCO staff member walked by us and offered support- she told me I was doing a great job.
I noticed that your baby grandchild was in a car seat in a Children’s Hospital wagon hooked up to some gizmos. While I don’t know what those gizmos were for, I can tell you that whatever your grandchild’s illness is that the doctors here at Children’s Hospital Colorado are all top-notch. They are doing the best for your grandchild and doing the best they can. I hope that your grandchild has a speedy recovery. How scary this all must be for your infant grandchild to need to go to Children’s Hospital! I am so glad that you are there to support your grandchild and your daughter. They both need you. It is beautiful that you are able to be there to offer support.
I’ll also assume that since your grandchild is an infant, you are new to this whole sick-kid thing. As an experienced sick-kid-mom, I wanted to take time to explain some things to you that you may not be aware of. Our children are fighting a war against their illness. As their mom or grandmother, we are in the trenches with them. Our love for our child binds us there. Our job is to fight with our children, fight for our children and to be their Mollie Pitchers. Since we’re all in those trenches together, we have the same camaraderie as soldiers at war. We would never attack each other verbally. You violated a major war rule today. There are enough attacks from the enemy- our child’s illness. We all support each other, even if its just a kind word, a nod or a smile. We are on the same side.
My family has been coming to Children’s Hospital for a while. Our encounter was the first time that I have ever heard an unkind word from another parent or grandparent or even anyone. As a matter of fact, I usually get compliments on my children’s behavior, and my temper tantrum throwing child was an anomaly. I invite you to ask my son’s nurses or doctors or the speech lady or the lady in the daycare room or anyone else about my children’s behavior. They will tell you. Thursday my almost-three year old was very tired. His brother’s illness is hard on him, too. He schlepps with us everywhere. He witnesses our stresses in this battle. His brother was diagnosed originally when my almost-three year old was four months old, so having a sick brother is all he knows.
Can I point out the ratios? You, your daughter and infant grandchild had a 2:1 ratio of adults to children. I had only four of my children with me at the time, so our adult to children ratio was 1:4. How about the next time you see such a discrepancy, you offer to help? Just a suggestion.
Grandma, you and I apparently have different parenting styles. I ignore temper tantrums. I’m not saying that your parenting or grandparenting style is wrong, I am just saying that it is different. I support parental rights and I believe that you should have the right to discipline your child or grandchild as you see fit (of course as long as it’s not abusive) even if it’s different than my parenting style.
BeforeMRI

Here is Vince before that MRI, not long before we met.

You had no way of knowing this at the time, but my son Vince was in his MRI, actually under sedation in the MRI machine at that very moment that you asked me to “do something” about his brother. Vince is a brain tumor patient and I cannot remember the last time he had a “good MRI”. Actually I do- it was right before I became pregnant with my last baby. We had an all-clear, although it was short-lived. My baby is 16 months old now. How many “bad MRIs” can my son have? I wish I knew. My other missing child was at speech therapy since she goes to speech therapy while her brother gets chemo.
We did get the results yesterday afternoon and my son’s tumor did not change in these last two months, thanks for asking. Chemo first works by slowing the tumor growth, then stopping the growth, then shrinking the tumor. His tumor was unchanged. It’s actually a victory, even though I shudder to think that no-growth/no-shrinkage is a victory. It is still a long slow healing, but this is a good first step. So I guess I’d call this a “good MRI”, finally.
I am sorry that we are in the same sick-child club, the club no one wants to be in. But we are here. We must fight our child’s illness and not each other. Will you remember that during your next trip to Children’s Hospital? We are a band of brothers, not enemies with each other. Your grandchild is in the best hands at Children’s Hospital Colorado. I hope that the gizmos and the illness are all short-lived, that your grand baby is healed quickly and that you can get on with life, without having to do this battle. But if you do go back to Children’s Hospital and if you ever need anything, do let me know. I am right here in the trench with you. Don’t ever forget that.
Sincerely,
A mom of a child who threw temper tantrum

Posted in Laura, Vince's Brain Tumor Battle by with 6 comments.

Comments

  • Toni says:

    Some people are so rude and uncaring. It would have been nice if she had offered to help you. You were in a hospital for some reason she did not know; you were not in a restaurant or some other fun place where a temper tantrum could be a learning experience on how not to behave.

  • Kansas Mom says:

    Sending prayers your way!

  • Dessiree says:

    Laura – thank you so much for sharing this letter. I am so sorry you experienced such harsh words in a place that should be full of only kind and loving words. Shame on her! You possess tact that most people do not, to both ignore her, and to offer her support afterwards, despite the fact that she had none to offer you. You are doing a great job, and are an amazing mother! Stay strong lady, and know that there is an army of women who do have your back.

    • Laura says:

      Thank you, Dessiree.
      This is the first time that I’ve dealt with someone unkind at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The other parents, nurses, doctors and staff are all wonderful, they really are.
      I’ve looked for the lady during my last few trips to Children’s Hospital since writing this. I haven’t seen her, but if I do, I would like to calmly talk to her.
      There is camaraderie among those of us at CHCO who have sick kids. I recently wrote about it here http://lauraontheprairie.com/2016/08/the-people-you-see-in-the-hall/
      Thank you for making CHCO a pleasant place. We usually come on Thursdays.

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