Do you know what's scary? Taking your child to the emergency room in a foreign country. Even if you know how to say, "No thank you, I brought my own bag" when the cashier at the grocery store asks if you need one, you may not know how to say, "Make sure you numb the area before you start stitching him up," because according to John's school nurse, apparently this is not a given in Italian ERs.
The first time we visited the ER was when John 's head was in need of the afore mentioned stitches. The doctor who treated him was wonderful, numbed his head upon request, and even made certain to schedule a return visit during the hours she would be working.
This visit was no less successful. John's clavicle was broken and as we waited amongst a sea of others for someone to return to the front desk, a man who would have been at home leading a gang of Hell's Angels looked at John, who was certainly no worse off than anyone else, and this man made it his mission to have someone see to John immediately, even though this man had been ahead of us in line and John was okay to the point hat he was making jokes.
Another man, who was probably in the same biker gang , gently helped John into his shoulder harness as we waited.
When I went to get John something to eat in the hospital cafeteria, the guy behind the counter forgave my attempt to order directly from him (I shamefully forgot that in Rome, no matter where you are or what you are ordering, you must order and pay from the cashier and then take your receipt to the person behind the counter who will then serve you) and smiled at us and took pity on my floundering for Italian words that had been driven from my mind in the ER and served us anyway, even though he sent a woman behind us to the cashier to order properly. Similarly, the cashier expressed no annoyance as I held up John's drink and panino to be rung up and did not blink an eye at the fact that I did not have correct change and therefore needed to be given change in return ( a problem that can often take 10-17 minutes to figure out as cashiers rarely have change and must ask all the patrons waiting in line if they perhaps have change, which they do not, and then the cashier must dig through his or her own wallet in search of the magical coins and/or just refuse to give you change and/or lower the price of the purchase so that no change is needed).
As Mike pulled up to the curb and I helped John into the small backseat of our car, not one single driver in the line behind us honked their horn (and if you have ever visited Rome, you know that a silent horn in any situation is simply not a viable option). It would seem that when it comes to children, Italians are overwhelmingly kind in a way that I have seen nowhere else. I hope for us to not visit the ER again, but if we do, I know that I can trust in this kindness.