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?