Just Be a Human

“What is it that made you want to be a pediatric nurse?”  The question was posed in my interview for a position to work with a pediatrician. It was a question that I would answer many times over in the coming years, but my answer would always be the same.

I remember the exact moment when I knew. I was a student nurse, awkward and nervous, and I was doing my post-op rotations at the hospital. I was single and without children, still visited Dickson Street on a regular basis, and was stumbling through relationships with some real “hum-dingers” as my mother would say.

It was a busy day in post-op (well, let’s be honest, it’s always busy). One patient, a child, came out screaming (this is normal for children coming out of anesthesia, but, it’s still a little alarming). Arms flailing, eyes wide and frightened, screams that could break glass-the nurse asked if I could help him calm down. Me? I thought. I know nothing about little kids. I had a niece and nephew, but that was the extent of my experience. Nonetheless, I picked him up and held him close, telling him it would be okay. Those eyes locked into mine and he stopped screaming. He stopped flailing. He gave me a teeny, tiny, almost-imperceptible grin, and drifted off to sleep. He did not care that I had no idea what I was doing. He didn’t care that I had too much credit card debt, or that I made a C on my last exam, or even that I wasn’t comfortable with kids. He just needed a person.

After spending over four years as a pediatric nurse, I have learned that adults could really learn a lot from children. They make friends by simply saying “Want to play with me?” or “Hey, I like Peppa Pig, too! *snort snort*”.  Language, faith, socioeconomic status, occupation, political beliefs, and intelligence level do not matter. Are you a human who wants to have fun? You’re in. The Chick-fil-A play place is an excellent place to observe this.

So, yes, I chose pediatrics. Children keep it simple. They are honest. They are straight with me when I ask them what they ate for breakfast. Adults may try to fib, but if a child ate 47 Doritos, three fruit snacks, and a finger laced with boogers for breakfast, they own it.

I am now a mother myself and my daughter teaches me more than I ever imagined. Of course, I teach her things too, but I knew that would happen. I never realized how much I would learn from her.

She has taught me that nurse brain and mom brain do not complement one another. AT. ALL. I brought her to the pediatrician so many times the first year of her life, her growth chart dots looked like one of those pieces of dot artwork. The majority of the time, she was 100% fine. I was just a little cray, sleep-deprived, hormonally imbalanced, and new at the whole mom gig.

In all seriousness, she teaches me not to take life too seriously, not to make things too complicated, and to just be kind. Life can be a roller-coaster. If you need someone to teach you how to ride, just ask a child.

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