It’s that time of year again. Early fall and time for Teague’s annual check-up. The three girls have summer birthdays, but Teague’s mid-September birth puts us right on the cusp: some years, we schedule early enough to miss it and others, we are just in time. This year, we hit it right on the nose: flu shots had arrived.
My ambivalence towards the flu shot is evident from my children’s medical records. There are years when all three got the shot, years when no one got the shot, and years when the one who happened to be at the office got the shot. However, I suspected that this year might be different. Our new pediatrician happens to also be my neighbor. Although not as convenient as the kids assumed it would be when they believed we could now walk down our driveway to appointments, it brings me great peace of mind to have a professional so close. But now my flu shot indecision would be exposed. And I was quite confident avoidance would not be an option.
I double-upped on appointments: Teague’s seven-year and Jase’s two-month check-ups. I arrived with all four kids. When my five-year-old Reese asked if Teague and Jase would be getting shots. I gave my standard disclaimer, “I don’t know, we’ll have to see,” while dreading the inevitable.
The doctor asked, “Have they had their flu shots yet?” as she perused their files. She commented on the irregularity of their flu shot history and added, “Well, since you’re all here, why don’t we just take care it today?” And here we go…
“Am I getting a shot? Are we getting flu shots? Who’s getting a shot? Am I?” Reese’s voice was panicked. My affirmative response opened the floodgates.
“Wow,” the doctor commented. “She’s your dramatic one, huh?” she asked while Reese wailed. The doctor continued exams in the surrounding mayhem. Teague began playing with instruments. Three-year-old Pierce was singing Christmas carols. Baby Jase was crying from her own round of immunizations. And Reese. Poor Reese was becoming more and more distraught at the thought of her impending doom. No hiding what really happens at our house now, I thought.
This continued for thirty minutes. Both the doctor and I tried to no avail to calm the screamer. The nurse arrived and whispered, “Should we do her first?” Oh, no, no, no. Since she insists on being last for everything, I said definitely better to start with the braver ones.
Teague went first. Took a few deep breaths. Shook out his arms as if he were about to run a marathon. “Are you ready?”
“Yes.” And then, “No. No, wait. I’m not ready.” On the third wait, the nurse said, “you’re ready, “ and injected the needle into his now completely tightened muscle. He cringed and winced and reassured Reese, “It’s not so bad. It hurts, but it’s ok.”
Next up, Pierce. She watched in silence as the nurse cleaned her little arm and gave her the shot. She looked around the room at everyone and announced, “That didn’t hurt,” with a big smile. The kids loved this. They told Pierce that when she turned five, she would get five shots and she responded, “Woohoo! That’s awesome!”
Exhaustion had tempered Reese’s tantrum to quiet whimpering. I told the nurse, “Now or never,” and held Reese’s arm. Before she had time to resume her frantic crying, it was over and she was telling me, “That didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.”
And so we survived the flu shot. And the kids are protected. I was telling someone this story just the other day when the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office informing me that the H1N1 supply had finally arrived. Can’t wait.
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