Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Heart of a First Grader

My Sunday exam schedule had a bit of a change of pace today.

My very good friend asked if I would give a tour to her daughter’s Girl Scout troop of the veterinary hospital. I said yes about two months ago. It was one of those requests you agree to, don’t really want to do, and figure that it is far enough in the future that everyone will forget about it.

I have to remind people that I don’t have children, and I went into veterinary medicine for the same reason most vets don’t go into human medicine, we like dogs and cats better than kids and people. I love kids, other peoples’ kids, but I am just a four legged lover person. I can’t help it, but I’m being honest. Those dogs and cats are easy for me to understand. I don’t get asked questions; I don’t have to try to figure out politically correct, anatomically appropriate answers. But, I love my friends, and I was a kid at one time, long, long ago, so it’s my turn to give back.

So off I headed to work an hour early to face my demons, (of course I am referring to my own internal insecurities, and there is no pun intended).

I got a call from my good friend on the way to work and somewhere in the conversation I said something like “I’d take ten maggots to pull from a dog in exchange for one kid.” He laughed, who would take maggots over children? I have more experience with maggots. I didn't see the lack of logic with this scenario? He reminded me I was a good vet and an inexperienced parent.

At arrival I was met by a dozen over excited first through third graders. Perhaps I should have reviewed Girl Scout age children before I volunteered? I thought for sure they would be older?

I introduced myself and was quickly given a beautifully colored dog picture by two of the Girl Scouts, Grace and Natalie.

I then took a quick poll of my audience. When I asked how many had pets? I was elated to see every hand go up.

“Ok,” I thought I can relate to these guys, and we were in business.

I had many good questions, some were very obvious and some gave me a good moment of self reflection on why I am who I am, and do what I do.

"How many years of school do you need to be a vet?”

“Well, in general most veterinarians go through four years of college and then four years of veterinary school. Me, well I never do things the easy way, I have eight years of college, and then four years at vet school. I was determined to go, it took me awhile.”

"Do we treat fish?”

Many of the girls had fish which made it a good question, except the question was being asked by an adult, who just as quickly as they asked it said, “Oh, they are disposable.”

“Umm, I’m not ever going to say a pet is disposable.” 

OK, stick to the kids questions.

After about 20 minutes of me talking the bored girls decided petting a cat and dog was more fun. See we share a lot in common.

In first grade all you should want to do is pet a cat or a dog. Follow your heart, do what you love, and if you can spend every day of your working and personal life petting a kitten, puppy, dog, or cat, or even a fish, do it! I love my job, and damn right my favorite part is still sitting on the floor and smothering a pet with kisses.

In my heart I am still, and always will be, one of those first graders.

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