Dear Abby: I recently took my 5-year-old, “Ralphie,” to his pediatrician. While we were waiting to see the doctor, Ralphie played a game on my phone. Then the doctor knocked on the door, entered, said “hi” and smiled. He called my son’s name and immediately, without any prompts to get Ralphie’s attention, proceeded to take the phone from my son’s hand.
You don’t simply take things from people’s hands to get their attention. Ralphie may be a child, but he is also a person. I would feel different if, after the doctor had tried to get his attention, my son had ignored him.
I understand Ralphie had to get ready to pay attention and follow instructions. If he hadn’t, I would have removed the phone myself. This doctor is very competent and has seen Ralphie since the day he was born. He has always been dry and a bit brusque.
How do I tell the doctor that I find what he did unacceptable without risking the relationship? I’m not very assertive. The reason I don’t say anything most of the time is because I become angry very easily, and while I understand there are ways to say things, I simply do not possess those skills. My emotions are so strong that I can’t find a way of being assertive without saying something rude. What can I do? – Laura in New York
Dear Laura: Ideally, YOU should have asked your son to return your cellphone when you heard the doctor enter. Write him a letter and tell him you were “taken aback” that he would take something from your boy without asking because what happened seemed to you to be disrespectful. Put the letter aside for three days before sending it to be sure your message wasn’t written in the heat of anger. You are entitled to express your opinion. And if the doctor’s “brusque” manner is off-putting, find another pediatrician.
Dear Abby: I have worked as an armed guard for the last two years. Since the beginning, whenever people find out what I do for a living, one of their first comments is, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you got robbed?”
I know these people are being facetious, but it bothers me. Is there a polite way to discourage this, or should I just grin, bear it and chuckle? – Don’t Shoot
Dear Don’t: You can choose to laugh it off, or you might keep a straight face and say, “It wouldn’t be so funny if I or someone else got hurt.”