Article Date: 1/1/2006

lessons learned
Big and Little Kids
For better or for worse, children think differently!
JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

"If I went to church every Sunday, never told lies and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?" a lady told me she asked the kindergarten-age children in her Sunday School class. 'NO!' they all shouted.

"Well," I continued, thinking they were a good bit more theologically sophisticated than I had given them credit for, "then how can I get into heaven?"

'You gotta be dead first!' replied one of the five year olds."

I was reminded of this old story when I received the description of an office experience of North Carolina's Dr. Ira Tucker. Both illustrate that kids' reasoning is often different from ours.

An unexpected reason

Said Dr Tucker: "Recently a lady returned for her annual visit following LASIK surgery and brought her 10-year-old daughter in for examination too. She told me they would be moving about a half hour away from my office. I said I would be happy to refer her to a colleague closer to her new home.

"'But Mommy, I want to come back here next year!' said the daughter. I could feel my head size growing. This perceptive young lady was obviously impressed with my pleasant chairside manner and/or clinical acumen.

"'Why is that?' her mother asked her.

"'Well, this place is so clean, and there are two rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom.'"

A favorite

One of the stories I enjoy most also illustrates that your child patients don't always interpret things in the same way adults do:

When Dr. Linda Bennett was a small tyke, she was extremely proud of her father. (As far as I know, she still is.) So when someone would pat her on the top of her head and ask, "And who are you, young lady?" her proud reply was, "I'm Dr. Irving Bennett's daughter!"

"I know you're proud of Daddy," said her momma, Trude, "but instead of bragging that you're his daughter, it would probably be best after this when you're asked who you are to just say, 'I'm Linda Bennett.'"

The very next day, while grocery shopping with her mother, again someone asked her who she was. "I'm Linda Bennett," she replied as Trude smiled at her obedience. But the mother's satisfaction was short-lived as she heard:

"Oh, are you Dr. Irving Bennett's daughter?" asked the lady.

"I always thought so," said Linda. "But momma says no."

Big kids too

Children are not the only ones in your office who are at times difficult to understand. As you well know, some adults are just as bad. Washington State's Dr. Ken Common reported this patient interaction to me:

"Am I a good candidate for cryorectotomy?" a patient asked me, obviously confusing the term "radial keratomety."

"I had to stifle myself to keep from responding, 'Only if you have hemorrhoids.'"

And Minnesota's Dr. Kevin Wulff tells me he has had recent patients suffering from "mascular degeneration" and "immaculate degeneration." Also one who was suffering from "stigma."

"I didn't know if he meant that he had a bad reputation, or if he had just screwed up the word 'astigmatism.'"

JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@AOL.COM

ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER



Optometric Management, Issue: January 2006