I screamed for the nth time after yet another child began howling, even before I attempted to clean his ear. Children thrashing about violently, with their parents struggling to hold them tight was a regular feature of my daily OPD.
For the past 4 years as an ENT doctor, children of all ages, mostly under 6 years of age had got on my nerves till I could no longer look at a child without wincing in deep anguish. Slowly but surely I realised that I had developed a generalised hatred towards kids. This resulted in a fear of holding, or even playing with kids, so much so that I was too scared to even hold my godchild on her baptism day. I started becoming increasingly impatient with kids in my OPD and would often shout at them, while occasionally slipping in a pinch or two.
By this time, I realised that I really had a problem. So during daily mass and adoration, I offered up this situation to the Lord asking for the virtue of patience in dealing with these pesky kids.
As often is the case when you pray for any virtue, I began getting more and more kids visiting my OPD, one crankier than the other. However, now, rather than getting irritated, I remembered the words of St. José Maria Escriva who said,
Don’t say: ‘That person gets on my nerves.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.’
It was difficult trying to think how a nuisance of a child could sanctify you. As I continued praying, I believe it was the grace bestowed on me through adoration and Holy mass that slowly started the process of making me a bit more patient day by day.
As days passed by, I realised that I no longer yelled at cranky kids but very peacefully finished the consultation. I noticed that once I became calmer, even the kids became quieter and barring a few, kids rarely cry in my OPD nowadays.
The cherry on the cake came when I was able to hold and play with a few kids who seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as I did. I eventually went on to hold and play with my godchild too.
St. John writes in his first letter that
there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
1 John 4:18
I realised that my traumatic past with children had resulted in a fear which progressed to a generalised hatred towards kids.
Only when I was able to fill my hate with the love of Christ, did all my fear vanish completely. Thus, I was able to love openly and wholeheartedly.
Today I can confidently say that it is a joy to be around kids and while I may encounter the odd cranky kid, I believe they are all sent to sanctify me and make me the saint that I was meant to be.