The little boy was literally climbing up the pantleg of his mother. "He's scared," she told me. "He had a bad time at his doctor's last time," the anxious mom added. Our eyes, the 5 year old's and mine, sized up each other – man to man, muscle to muscle, universe to universe. There would now be an internal debate of trustworthiness – on each side – of this heavy weight moment in time. His reluctance to be lifted on the exam table was obvious as the arms of safety were peeled by his mother from her neck. I sat and watched. Not a word. Quiet.
We drew our weapons. His, a stare of cold steel; mine, a shiny ear scope. Instead, as I sat, I asked to look at mom's ears. I did. I asked to look in mom's mouth, and pretendingly did. His evaluation of my performance was sharply etched in his mind's acute processor. I drew my stethoscope to his mom's back to listen to lungs. Then, I slowly, like the gunfight at the o-k corral, drew toward his watchful perched position of power, while me on the subordinate exam rollerstool.
He said, "I have a dog!" I said nothing, as it could be a ploy, a plot, a trojan horse comment to quickly surround me with ear piercing shrills and dashing speed to his circle of wagons, mom. I waited. My eye honed to his eye. He said the dog's name. I shook my head in approval. I drew my rollerstool closer and closer. His eye honed to my eye. Slowly, like the draw of the bow during the hunt, my otoscope entered his right ear. Then the left. The test of the tonsil lay in front of the medical warriors. "Can you eat an elephant?," I asked. He opened his mouth so wide I could see his appendix. He held the tongue blade. Not needed. His lungs were listened to with the kid-size stethoscope. No rash. "Tonsillitis," I said to him as my stealthy roller steed backed away. He looked at his support staff, his mom. "You will take the medicine for your mom?" and he shook his head affirmatively. The warriors were exhausted.
Celebratory and coexistent now. To the Tootsie Pop drawer, we went. Hand in hand from the exam table battlefield, to the oasis of sweets. His choice was deliberately selected with a keen appreciation for what was to be.
On the escort out of the exam area, with Tootsie Pop in hand, my leg became heavy. The small warrior's arm was hugging around my leg, just above the knee. Stride for stride, we were proudly successful. I said, "Do you want to give me a hug?" He put his arms up high, as I reached over to accept his offer of goodwill. We hugged. Mom smiled. I said to my newly made battlefield-weary friend, "Hugs are good." He said, "bye," as he secured his mother's hand to see the world.