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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shrieking Kids

I often tell people that when someone goes into veterinary medicine because they don't like dealing with people, they are in for a very rude surprise.

Clients with young kids are a bit unpredictable. When the kids are well-behaved, I like to talk to them and interact with them. Sometimes I'll let them listen through my stethescope and participate in the exam. I give talks to schoolkids, so I don't mind answering their many questions. However, the rambunctious kids make me cringe. Sometimes there will be several in the room, pulling on the pet, opening cabinets and drawers, climbing on the exam table, and otherwise making it almost impossible to carry on a conversation with the parent.

A few days ago I was getting ready to go into a room to see a puppy for its vaccine boosters. Through the door I could hear that the mother and her son were not getting along well at that moment. Repeatedly I heard him just about scream "I don't like you!" to his mom. She would reply in an almost equally loud voice, "I don't care!" It would often go back and forth like that and we could hear it through the closed door.

Gathering up my courage I went into the room to see the little boy (probably around three years old) and his little sister (less than a year) acting fairly well behaved. As I started examining the dog and talking to the mother, he started aggravating the little girl. Mom kept telling him to stop, and he kept doing little things (some of which she ignored). The girl was crying and getting more upset, especially when he took her shoes off. At that point she screamed, reaching a frequency and octave that I swear went past human hearing and echoed through the room and my head.

I finally got done with the exam, vaccinated the dog, and left the room. After that client I came to several conclusions.

1. Some parents really need to learn good parenting techniques.
2. Despite their occasional problems, I have REALLY good kids!
3. I now understand why some animals eat their young.

Veterinary medicine is definitely not a profession for anyone who doesn't like dealing with people!