The Waiting Room

I am here sitting in a Doctors Waiting Room, waiting my turn to go and knock quietly and politely on a plain, clean Doctors Surgery door then to be beckoned inside for my prearranged appointment. I don’t feel unwell, just here for a Consult and know that these places are not the healthiest of places, just like Hospitals, so the sooner I’m out the better.

It’s a typical scene being played out before me and can be seen in thousands of similar Waiting Rooms up and down the country. As I sit here, watching, listening, absorbing, I can’t be unaffected by the deeper sadness of the lacklustre eyes in the young peoples faces, those lost and lifeless eyes, the slumping body language, the untidy and unkempt clothing and the verbal rasping irritation expressed by these my fellow patients; especially of those young and very young mothers attending this morning with their young, and often times wild children. Many wouldn’t see what I am seeing. Many would be and are blind to it because it is so common place now, unremarkable, accepted as a state of being ‘normality’.

The majority of people here before me are young women, who are in their middle to late teens, the older ones in their very early 20’s. The simple fact is, they are all mere girls in reality, and evidently struggling to cope subconsciously with the loss of their life expectations, their innocence and hope. Not long ago these same girls were sitting in a classroom somewhere in some school or other. Each lesson attended by them with their classmates and during lesson-time, they dreamed of adulthood, of good jobs, work, money, holidays in the warm sunshine and perhaps even, a special someone to care for. I recollect my own thoughts and emotions back when I was a boy and remind myself of my then hopes and dreams, in those far off days of wanting an escape from school, to start work to earn and to have some sort of independence. But then, things were different. Work was available, apprenticeships; proper apprenticeships, not the sad excuses on offer today.

So, what now? What do these (apparently) depressed individuals think and feel now? Sitting here, watching, listening and being surrounded by their scruffy and stained cumbersome 4 x 4 type guerrilla warfare type prams, which are burgeoned with children’s damp clothing, cold milky feeding bottles dripping on the Surgery carpet, half empty Coca Cola bottles, empty cans, packets of crisps and biscuits and I wonder. I see nothing that is particularly healthy, just untidiness, junk or unimaginative fast food stuffs being carted around. Anything to act as a quick fix for the kids to be quietened. And as I watch, I see these girls struggling to placate their crying and coughing babies, jiggling them up and down so roughly for some reason, babies with red rimmed eyes and in one or two cases raucous coughs and runny noses sounding very congested. These girls struggling in how to entertain their noisy and disruptive toddlers who run around screaming, kicking and spitting, playing as noisily as possible, all in efforts to draw attention to themselves. Or other babies crying incessantly, demanding time and attention. Perhaps the toddler wants a drink from a drinks machine but the mother just can’t afford it. No control, no discipline, no idea of parenting skills, what to do or how to do it. So I am struck by the hopelessness of these girls’ situations, which are exacerbated by ‘the system’.

From experience, and supporting anecdotal evidence, girls are passively but constructively encouraged to have babies far too early for they will have little chance of getting any form of housing from their Local Authorities on the Council Housing Estates (because that’s their only chance) unless they either have children or are pregnant. There is just not enough housing stock you see as successive Local Authorities countrywide failed in their due diligence to preserve and maintain social housing over the years.

But I also feel that we too are responsible, we all are, my generation and each successive generation after me. We are the apathetic public, the generations of parents who had a responsibility to teach and pass on parenting skills to our children. What has happened is nothing short of tragic.

I am a very lucky one I suppose. I am in my late 50’s and my parents taught me constructively and purposely the domestic skills needed AND the moral codes expected and required. Unfortunately, the generations after mine (younger) have been seduced by too much materialism, social competition; television, advertising, etc, to such an extent that a gulf has opened up in society swallowing hopes and dreams because these skills have been lost in the murky fog of preoccupations with ‘no-brainers’, with TV soaps and Celebrity worshipping magazines for example. How on earth did we arrive here to be in this state, I ask myself? Why did and do we allow it?

Now I think, time has been irretrievably lost never to be re-found and hardly any spare time is afforded to teaching, supporting, nurturing or mentoring children and young people in ‘life and emotional skills’ which would avoid such occurrences that I am watching. And even if sufficient funding in the educational establishments were found, it would be almost impossible to gain the massive lost ground because society has devised a new paradigm of normality and expectation.

Looking at these young girls, these very young and naive mothers, listening to their foul language, seeing their total disrespect and ignorance for others around them, seeing their lack of care and their abysmal role model efforts, I am so saddened, because their hopes and dreams have come to a shuddering and desperate halt. Now they face such crucial parental responsibilities and such emotional drains that they struggle to even breathe. Life for them will not, in the foreseeable future, measure up to their young and innocence hopes, dreams and expectations that they had imagined back when still in school.

It saddens me greatly as I sit and watch. I know they are ignorant of their plight but also know that in the years ahead, they may, if they are lucky, be able to see and recognise the abyss in to which they fell. These emotionless eyes I see now, these tired and drained eyes in so young a person, recognise little of what they once naively imagined. Adulthood comes with a price and you need to be prepared to pay that cost. If you aren’t prepared, the interest on the living emotional and expectation loans can be crippling, as these girls are experiencing right now.

And what of emotions, what chance do these young people have of experiencing and truly knowing emotions other than those of a negative nature? We, I, can only hope that some day, the educational establishments and especially and crucially society as a whole, will truly recognise the state we have fallen and then hopefully to really get to grips in a practical sense, in order to educate, illuminate and provide for these sections of our society. If not, I truly fear for the world for we are already much worse off in so many ways than our predecessors.

My name is called and as I rise, a little boy is roughly dragged across the floor, kicking and screaming to the lift to go down to the ground floor with words ringing in his little ears from his young mothers warning “Cameron you little dickhead, don’t run off like that otherwise a very bad man will catch you and throw you in a bag, take you away and do awful things to you”.

How sad, how very, very sad that already this mother is painting such terrible pictures. How ignorant is she of the potential damage she does in the name of ‘controlling her son’. Such a gamut of emotions, all negative, with little or no hope, just the expectation of the same unhealthy sameness. Leave school, get pregnant, get a house, now what?

An article written by Michael Boase


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