Listen to me!

I am not, I believe, a hysterical mommy. I am in general quite calm, reasonable and not prone to dramatics. I have never phoned a doctor in the middle of the night demanding a house call at the faintest whiff of a blocked nose.  I also have never stormed into a principal’s office threatening litigation for any reason.

I’m easygoing, I think, and assume that the people I’ve asked to do a particular job will do it well and with my child’s best interests at heart.

I don’t bother doctors or teachers without a good reason. When I DO turn up, it’s after much debate and rigorous attempts to manage the situation by myself. Also, in the case of doctors, it’s usually after some major budget reshuffling. When I get there, and I’m sitting across the desk from the relevant professional person, desperate for help, I expect ONE thing.

All I ask is that they LISTEN to me. I don’t expect them to agree with me, necessarily. And it would be great if they could easily put my mind to rest and tell me I’m being silly. But when I KNOW I’m not being silly… I expect more from them.

When you have a potentially serious health or education worry, you go to the people who are supposed to be able to help. And there is nothing more disheartening than the realization, halfway through your appointment, that this person simply isn’t getting it. It’s not that their eyes actually glaze over, as you’re pouring your heart out. They don’t actually drool with boredom, usually. It’s more a kind of practiced stillness that comes over their face, a ‘Will this crazy woman shut up so I can fob her off with a Cepacol lozenge’ expression. There’s a faint but definite ‘How long until teatime?’ vibe in the air.

We’re not all neurotic

Doctors and teachers are obviously used to the loony mommas who Google themselves into a frothy for no real reason and who can be safely sent on their way with a soothing generic pep talk and a jelly baby. And so they expect us all to be Neurotic Noras who’ve been watching too much Dr Phil. But we’re not.

We’re the ones who know our children best. And we know when there is something not right. We might not know how to fix it, but that’s why we come to you. 

I remember a particular meeting a few years ago with my son’s high school teachers. I was optimistic about it, as he’d been to a fantastic primary school that had always understood him and been there for him.  I assumed high school would be the same. But he simply wasn’t getting what he needed, and I didn’t want to move him to another school just sommer. I wanted to work with them to find a way to help him. I went to them with psychologists recommendations, with ideas and suggestions, with years of experience of knowing this child, and a very real worry about his wellbeing. 

I left there angry, tearful and frustrated with the words ‘Not an option at this stage’ ringing in my ears.  

Never again, I said. No more placebo Jelly Babies for us, thank you. A new school became the only option, and thankfully it’s a place where both of us are genuinely heard when we speak.

Right now, I’m grateful to all those professional people who DO listen to parents. The doctors, teachers, therapists and caregivers who take the time to look beyond the obvious and who hand out jelly babies as a treat, not because they don’t have anything else to offer.

Do you ever feel like doctors or teachers don't actually listen to you?
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