Badge of Honor
I have been having a lot of trouble stopping myself from worrying about big things, so I am forcing myself to focus on the good. One of the surprising things I really like right now is my security badge. Parents of kids who are patients here at the hospital get a badge that we wear around our necks identifying us as “THE PARENTS” and functioning as a key card to get us in and out of all the locked doors. Since just about every door is locked, I have been wearing it constantly for almost two weeks and feel an inappropriate amount of love for this piece of plastic.
First of all, I decided it has something to do with the string – it is just so soft. It’s like a shoe lace and it isn’t itchy or stiff at all. It’s worn in like an old t-shirt. That must mean that many parents before me have likely worn this badge and their strength must have softened the string. The badge is also the perfect weight – not too heavy and not too light- so it lies just right and I don’t feel it all.
I do have an objection to the fact that the imprint repeatedly says, “I Love Children’s Specialized Hospital.” I think that is pushing this whole happy place thing a bit too much. Children’s hospitals like to make you think you are in Disneyland and everything is a part of a new and improved ride to nowhere with bright colors, cute pictures, and nurses wearing happy face scrubs. I appreciate the effort, but I think it would be more appropriate for the string to just say, “I am currently staying at Children’s Specialized Hospital, but I really want to leave.”
One of most important things the badge does is send secret signals to everyone we come into contact with. It is very powerful. First, it says to the nurses, staff, therapists, and doctors that we are a force to be reckoned with, that we have done our research, and we know our child’s condition better than anyone. It says to the security guards at the front desk that we don’t have to explain our strange comings and goings and that when we smile politely at them, they will wave the visiting hour rules just a little bit. The single most important thing the badge does is send a message to every other person wearing the same badge that we “get you,” that we are hugging you even if we don’t even speak, that we really do want to talk, and that we already love your child because we see him working so hard in therapy.
I have taken to wearing the badge even when I go home every now and then. I feel like it might explain why I am walking my dog in pajamas and snow boots in May, or why our grass is 10 feet tall, or why haven’t done whatever it is that I was supposed to do for you. I am sure it just looks like I work in some office building, but for some reason it gives me just the right amount of courage to face the day and shows the world that for right now things just aren’t the way they are supposed to be.