Recently, we've been teaching Melly to be nice.
Some of the kids at her day care were hitting and we were shocked to discover that she was one of the perpetrators. So we took it upon ourselves to train her not to hit.
Me: "Melly, don't hit the babies. The babies are your friends."
Me: "So what are you going to do with the babies?"
Melly: "Hit the babies." (Repeat x 100)
But we were eventually successful and now the day care is reporting that she gently pats the other babies and says that they are her "fwends." We have successfully trained our daughter to be nice.
Now it's my turn.
It's not that I'm not nice. I'm nice enough. But when Melly woke me up at 5:30AM and I've just seen 15 back pain patients that morning and now I'm on #16, it's hard to keep a smile plastered on my face. Especially when patient #16 showed up 20 minutes late and now I'm going to have two minutes for lunch.
(I tend to get really irritable when I think I'm going to miss lunch. I hate the fact that it's totally acceptable in our field to have zero lunch break in a day. Sometimes my morning clinic ends later than my afternoon clinic, so I have negative lunch. I guess that means I'm supposed to throw up?)
My new resolution to be nicer comes from a recent visit to my youngish female primary care physician, who was clearly running an hour late and doing my physical exam during a time when most people would be eating lunch. Yet through our visit, she kept the brightest, most cheerful smile on her face. She was so nice, I wanted to hug her. And I'm not such an awesome patient to warrant that kind of niceness.
Obviously, it's great to be a master diagnostician, but I am most impressed with doctors who can exhibit that kind of unconditional, overwhelming niceness. (Especially in a field where there are, let's face it, a lot of assholes.) My PCP is a physician mother as well and I'm sure she has all sorts of stress in her life, but I wouldn't have known it from looking at her. When I look at my PCP, I think to myself, "She is a born doctor."
When I meet a doctor like that, I resolve to walk into every patient's room with a huge smile on my face. It generally lasts for about a day, sometimes less. Sometimes I can only smile through my first patient. Still, I'm working on it. If my two year old daughter can be nice, I can too.