Today marks the last day of the Annual Physical Exam being held in the building where I work at. Since yesterday, people who are on staff from all over Metro Manila have been flocking to our main office to participate in this event. What makes this event extra special is that families of the staff are allowed to tag along.
So for the past two days, it’s almost like Every Nation Building has been sheltering a Family Day of sorts but only in a sterile environment with nurses and doctors in scrub suits scattered all around the place (okay, maybe sterile is not really an appropriate word to use here but please allow me to sound Grey’s Anatomy-ish for once in my life).
Since I am not yet qualified to participate in the physical exam, I was assigned to take charge of managing the traffic of the patients at the Blood Extraction Station. I like to think that it’s the emergency room of our “hospital” because it’s the station where the most action takes place. Quite a really interesting area to be assigned at.
From manning this station the whole day since APE started, I’ve already seen and encountered all sorts of different reactions from the people – adults and kids alike – who have lined up and waited for their turn to undergo the procedure of blood extraction. I’ve encountered people who are early, people who are excited (more like excited to eat after fasting for 10-12 hours), people who are a bit afraid, people who are nervous, people who are brave. Then there are those people who have gained my most respect and admiration.
I’m talking about the parents who lined up together with their kids. You see, it’s not easy to convince a kid to go through this process because it involves strangers in gloves and surgical masks, blood and needles. In the words of those cute little kids, it’s “ouchie.” We have already made several of those kids cry, mind you. But every time a kid cries or strongly refuses to go through blood extraction because of fear, I’ve noticed a trend on how their parents would respond. Here are the words I’ve been hearing from parents since day one:
“You can do it!”
“It’s okay to cry. Mommy/daddy is here!”
“After this, you’ll get a reward, okay?”
“It will hurt like a bite of an ant, okay? But it will be just quick! You can hold my hand.”
“Yey, it’s done na! I’m so proud of you!”
“Look at me, just look at me!”
Defining moment right there. I have to admit I was a bit surprised to hear those conversations because it’s very far and different from the typical parent-kid scenarios I have encountered growing up. I grew up hearing parents, who when their kids start to cry in fear, respond with words that inflict even more fear instead of saying words that bring encouragement and security to the kids:
“Magagalit sayo yung nurse!”
“Wag kang iiyak, huhulihin ka nung pulis, hala ka! Ikukulong ka nila!”
“Mapapalo ka talaga sa akin!”
“Ang arte-arte mo naman!”
“Ang tigas talaga ng ulo mo!”
“Sige, iiwan na kita dito kung di ka tumigil sa kakaiyak mo!”
And then we wonder why our kids are so coward and are growing up in fear.
No exaggeration but all kids did it. There were a lot of crying and shouting and convincing but they did it. And I’d like to believe that they all came out of the room only stronger and braver, carrying a little more security and confidence in themselves knowing that they survived the needles.
Today I choose to someday follow the astounding example of the parents who have lined up with their kids at the Blood Extraction Station.
Words have the power to change a generation. Hope we will all be mindful of the words that come out of our mouths.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21