Thursday, September 8, 2011

He'll Be Here All Week, Please Tip Your Server

While I was having all that cancer treatment last year, nobody else in the family got any routine medical care. I guess I was going to so many doctors, I just couldn't schedule an appointment for anyone else. Matt did not get his physical. Hank did not have his four-year checkup. The dog did not get her shots. (Laura didn't darken the door of a doctor all year either, but she exists on some higher plane of super-awesome health and rarely even has a sniffle.) I did manage to take Hank for one sick visit and you may recall, I wound up crying, so that was excellent.

Now Hank has started pre-K and the school wants his immunization record, and he turned five this summer, so today I took him in for a checkup. He'd just gone for a dental checkup on Tuesday, and I thought there might be some resistance to more doctorin', so I didn't tell him he was going until I picked him up from school. I knew he would ask if he would get an S-H-O-T, and I knew I'd have to tell him he would. I don't remember Laura having this much fear of needles, I'm not sure why he is different.

But isn't it rational to dread getting stuck with needles? Towards the end of my chemotherapy, I remember telling Matt, "I don't mind the chemo but I am just really effing tired of being stuck with needles." Anyway.

We had some time to kill between school pickup and his appointment, so I took him to get a lemonade. We faced each other over a small table. "Will they give me a shot?" he asked. "I am not sure," I said. "But I think they probably will. If they do, it will be very short, and only hurt for a second. And you can handle it."

Thus I laid out all my talking points:

  • It will be quick
  • You are a big boy
  • Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to
  • The shots are to keep you from getting sick
  • I'll be right there with you
  • Then I will buy you some Legos

Okay, that last one wasn't in my pitch to him, because I know that I can and should ask my kids to do hard things without a bribe. I do know this. So I stuck to the other talking points. He processed all of this with equanimity. We went on to chat about his school day and some fun things, and just when I thought he might be distracted, he said, "I am still thinking about the shots. I might cry in there." We talked through it again and I told him that crying was absolutely okay, but struggling or fighting was not allowed, and he agreed. Then we got on the road to the doctor.

I thought the cloud of the impending shots might make him sulky for the whole visit. Au contraire. These two young, pretty medical assistant girls were hovering over him, doing his work-up and his vision and hearing screen. In the warm glow of their attention, Hank became positively suave. There was nothing like him. They exclaimed over his weight and stature. He beamed with pride. When he identified all the pictures on the eye chart, and they praised him, he did the little dance that a football player does in the end zone.

And then, THEN the lead girl held up a little paper cup and explained to Hank that he was going to give them a urine sample and how to do it. He said to her, "Um, what's your name?" She said it was Stephanie. He said, "Stephanie, be warned, because my aim is not very good."

Yes he did. May lightning strike me dead if those were not his exact words. I mean, asking her name first?!? Like a drunk ladies man at a bar, "C'mere, what is it, Stephanie? Lemme tell you a little somethin'." The girls just absolutely lost their shizz. They were doubled over laughing. I threw my arms up into an exaggerated shrug so that all of heaven would see that I have NO IDEA where this kid gets this stuff. I mean, "Be warned"??? He is beyond, I do not know. I just drive him around.

And he just knew he killed with that line. Killed. That room was his.

That's why it was so sad when he still had to get shots. Poor buddy! All his charm and suavité couldn't save him. When the doctor came in to do her portion of the exam, he looked at me and said, "She doesn't have any shots in her hand." I told him it was still to come. And when the medical assistant came back into the room with the little tray, I held him on my lap. She was quick, but with three shots, there is plenty of time to cry out in pain and fear. The first one takes you by surprise but by the third one, you know it's coming. I hated it for him. She had the band-aids on in a flash, but he was still crying, crying like his feelings were hurt.

I said, "It's over, see? It's all over!" And he said, "I was brave but I still feel horrible!" This caused my heart to break yet more. And let me mention that Hank still doesn't have the /r/ sound, so what he said was, "I was bwave but I still feel hawwible!" The nurse said that one of the injections would make a sore lump, so I felt like I'd lied about how it would only hurt for a second. And I felt pretty hawwible too.

Then he managed to stop sobbing and tell his preferred lollipop color, and then we were on our way. In the car, after we discussed his band-aids and his pain levels and the likelihood that I would have to carry him everywhere, he said, "Since I was so brave, could I maybe get a toy?"

Reader, I wish I could say that I held to some good yankee common sense Protestant line about how we don't get toys for doing the things that are expected of us and blah blah, but have we met? Hi, I'm the mother who drove straight to Target and let him pick out a Lego police car. It was miraculous to see the way his soreness disappeared as he ran toward the toy aisle. Later on, though, the soreness was back and he is like an awful Tiny Tim in a community rep production of A Christmas Carol. I dosed him with tylenol and he asked if he could sleep on a cot in my room tonight and I SAID YES OKAY?

Except for all the pain and crying it was a pretty awesome day, really. How is your back-to-school going?


Elizabeth said...

Sweet and funny Hank --

My children went back for their first day today -- all glorious.

Amy said...

He's sleeping on a cot in your room? That is hilarious! Go, Hank, go! By the end of the week, he'll have kicked you out of the bedroom. :)

He is so clever! When I read that he said, "be warned", I thought, "He didn't say that!?!" But he did!! What's your name, sweetheart? Let me tell you a thing or two. What a sweetheart--maybe he thought he could charm his way out of it.

By the way, Ava and Nate know that they automatically get to pick a toy from the dollar store across from the dr's office after their shots. So yeah, I'm that mom too.

Beth said...

He did NOT EVEN say that. Even though I know that he did.

We were at the Souplantation-- some of you may know it as Sweet Tomatoes?-- the other night, and Rowan loves, LOVES to get the tiny ice cream cone with the soft serve ice cream. It's like, a tablespoon and a half of ice cream, but he thinks it's the greatest dessert ever. A grown up always gets it for him, since the machine is finicky and even I can't control it most of the time. But this time, I got the perfect swirl of chocolate and vanilla ice cream to perch right on top of the cone. I handed it to him, and he said, "Now THAT'S what I call some ICE CREAM."

It cracked me up to pieces.

Kelly said...

Carter isn't even old enough to know to ask for a toy but yesterday after his shots we went right to Target and I bought him a sword from the dollar bin and a new beach ball. I guess I'm that mom too ;)

Common Household Mom said...

A Lego toy is never a bad thing, is it? Unless you step on it in the night?

You could think of the Lego toy as a reward for being so dadgum funny and charming at the doctor's office. And some of those shots really do hurt for a while, so a Lego seems almost REQUIRED. I am a Yankee Protestant, and I approved this Lego toy.

Our back-to-school was seamless. So I know there is some problem lurking, like permission slips that weren't turned in, or payments that were supposed to be made that my daughter neglected to tell me about. But right now I don't know that, so life is good.

Hootie said...

My secret to shorties gettin' shots? It's sort of a tantric thing (stay with me)... on the drive over, I start talking about the new levels I just downloaded for Angry Birds. But we don't take the phone out until it's time for shots. We just talk a little bit every now and then about how cool the new levels are gonna be.

When I finally relent and let the kids play with the phone, you could probably perform a battlefield amputation and they wouldn't notice. And since the kid who's actually receiving the shots at that moment is the one who gets to hold the phone, they jockey for position to be first one getting a shot. My guess is they would volunteer as practice dummies for acupuncture trainees if they thought it would get them more Angry Birds time.

Michele R said...

His comment was hilarious!
I think you managed the expectations of the doc visit very well.
I stopped taking my kids for an annual check up and they know they get caught up on their shots just before kindergarten--and only what is required by law (so in their mind you could say if it wasn't for their mom saying no to some that they'd perhaps be getting stuck even more)--and then again the summer before middle school...and I think there'll be a couple before in senior year of high school. I always took my kids to some place like Sonic to get anything on the menu including a huge sundae or shake.
I'm still dying over the aiming remark.

Keely said... He really said that?? No, I can't IMAGINE where he gets that from.

[insert eyeroll]

X is up for his 4 yr shots soon too. There will probably be Legos, yes.

Veronica said...

He is too sweet and funny.

Becky said...

CH Mom, I am living in that honeymoon state too. I was thinking yesterday, everything is going so smoothly with L's back to school that I feel like I'm about to get punked. Right now we don't know that, though, and life IS good!

Elizabeth, you crazy Californians and your starting after Labor Day! So nice.

Hoot, you are some kind of wizard.

delaine said...

That Hank ,he's a character! The other morning as I served him pancakes, he asked me," when I am a teenager, will you still be alive?" I cracked up and assured him I would be. Your post had me chuckling aloud and tearing up . And you know I totally agree with the purchasing of Legos for good causes .

Jenni said...

He is my favorite 5-year-old. I'm glad you bought him a toy.

Jane said...

Ah, poor Hank! Break my heart.

But also, I'm still chuckling over "be warned."

Kate said...

I would have done the same thing, you know, with the Legos and all, because those things can really distract a boy!

AlGalMom said...

Even though my kids are a month past their checkups, the topic of shots still comes up regularly. They are all deathly afraid of them, but also (maybe a little too graphically-I tend to play up the horrors of polio and tetanus) aware of what shots prevent. So pre-shot the conversation is very pro-shot ("Shots keep us healthy, I'm glad I am getting a shot") and afterward it tends to be "please never make me do that again." I'll have to try the Lego toy technique, right now we do Hershey Kisses in the exam room and ice cream afterwards.

Camp Papa said...

I just wish that every child had the number of people loving them that Hank has who love him. What the hecks! If every child had a number of people who loved them that equalled the number who would jump into a fire for Hank, it who be a net increase in love for children.

Amy said...

That boy. LOVE him.

Megan still loses it for days over the mere thought of a needle and pretty much has to be physically restrained. When she broke her collarbone (at 3) and was sobbing hysterically in the parking lot of the dr's office, I finally discerned that it was not over the pain of the fracture but b/c she thought she'd have to get a shot. True story. No shot? Oh, then I'm fine. Don't mind my dangly arm here.

Kira, OTOH, has never shed tear one with shots, even as an infant. She sometimes stops smiling, at the very moment of insertion. Go figure.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juliet Grossman said...

No parent should be above bribery to get kids to have their shots. We have a longstanding tradition of ice cream after shots. Even if I get the covered before-school appointment (7:20 a.m.) we are off to get ice cream cones.

laura said...

Of course you took him to Target for a toy! Hell, my Depression Era mother who could rub two pennies together and light a fire always bought us a little toy after our shots as a reward for being brave and cooperative.

Pam said...

Having your babies hurt or be sick is the worst.... my daughter who is 18 is having treatment for cancer now. I would rather have it myself 100 times than watch her go through it. She will be OK, and when we are done we are going to a weekend spa for the deluxe treatment and I am taking her shopping for a new dress at Betsey Johnson! So the legos just evolve until you are buying your kids real cars to make them (and you) feel better.

Becky said...

Oh Pam, I know you would rather it be you! I'm so sorry that your daughter (and you) are going through this.

I bet a spa weekend will be just what the doctor ordered.

mommyanderson said...

Awesome, awesome story! That little guy is hilarious. I can see him on his college campus some day in the future, winning all the girls over with his suave charm :) He earned the toy with that comedy routine!

Sylvia said...

Love this story! BTW, my pediatrician endorses bribery - he's of the "don't keep ice cream in the house, it will tempt you" camp, but that any shots should be followed by a double scoop.

My 5 yr old got to try a coke icee with a friend and informed us when he got home, "so in the future I would like to drink your coke, Dad." It was the "in the future" that killed me.

"Be warned" - LOVE it!!!!

Becky said...

"In the future!" I am dying. Like, "Going forward, here's what you can expect." Hilarious. And how do you say no to that???

Anonymous said...


I'm Jamie Ridenhour's wife, and he just turned me on to your blog. Oh my goodness. What a gift. I will now be a devoted reader!

Becky said...

Gwyn! Thanks so much for commenting! I have been admiring YOUR blog and all the great kid/education resources you're sharing. Great to see you here!

Crystal said...

I love that I've been following your blog long enough to know what story you were talking about! I remember envisioning Hank crawling up in your lap in the drivers seat (though I think you just took him home and cuddled him). And I remember I was like 6 months pregnant and thinking about having my boy and hoping he would be cuddly.

See, this is what blogging is all about...following people's lives that are so much more interesting than your own ;). (well, and it helps that your writing is super entertaining).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Becky!

michelle said...

I love reading your blog! It just lifts my mood right up, and brings a smile to my face.

sande churchill said...

omg, becky. this story is just adorable and now I am hooked. do you send the block postings to email? if so, please add me so that I won't miss out. would love to see ya'll. let us know next time you head for C to be with B.