Friday, September 17, 2004

Or is the moral, Don't Dress Your Kid in Tights for a Checkup?

After that love note about Sarah's preschool yesterday, I went and kept her home today, for services in the morning and her 4-year checkup in the afternoon. Because of RW's new job, she and Sarah both have new health insurance which doesn't cover the pediatric clinic Sarah's been going to since she was born, so this was her last visit there.

I got all misty and sentimental, even though Sarah's regular doctor is on vacation and the place has been totally renovated since last time we were there so almost nothing was familiar anyway. It was all new and fancy and clean, with a big fishtank in the waiting room. I was happy to see that they kept the old busted typewriters for the kids to play with, though.

The first time we were there, Sarah was about a week old. It took both of us just to get her out of the house. She peed in her diaper during the checkup and we didn't have a spare. We didn't have a diaper bag set up yet, and hadn't brought anything but our wallets and keys. It's hard to remember back to that time, before we had adopted any of the routines of parenthood, when we were so tired and discombobulated and easily thrown. Now we're all such old hands- RW and me at being parents, and Sarah at being a person.

The checkup today was surprisingly like a grown-up checkup. Sarah was very demure and composed in her going-to-synagogue dress as she stood on the scale and against the ruler and behind the line for the eyesight test, identifying the pictures in the preschool eye chart: "Ship. Heart. Teapot. Banana moon." The substitute doctor was a sweetie, charmed her right away while she checked her heart and lungs and asked her to draw a picture of herself, draw letters, hop on one foot, shrug her shoulders. She asked Sarah directly whether she was having any problems with her health, before she asked me. Everything was going great. I felt almost superfluous, the aged chaperone.

Then came the Vaccinations.

There were two, and there will be another two next year before Sarah can start kindergarten. The doctor and I had a little coded surreptitious discussion while Sarah hopped around the examining room, and then she went to get the nurse. I sat Sarah on my lap and broke the news to her, explaining about how the shots will keep her from getting sick and how she needs them so she can go to kindergarten next year and how she already had some back when she was a baby and blah blah blah blah blah. But I felt like I was saying, "And really the electric chair is no big deal, it hardly hurts at all, and all big girls do it, you'll be fine!"

She sat on my lap and nodded, keeping her composure with the greatest effort. She was okay while the nurse got everything ready, chattering inanely [the nurse, that is] about the same things I'd just covered [more inanely than I'd been chattering? Maybe. Though it doesn't seem possible] and then jabbing that needle into Sarah's leg and we didn't have time for any of the coping techniques I'd recommended because "OWWWW! Waaaaaaaaaaaah!" It was a tetanus shot, which really hurts, I remember from last time I had one. She curled into herself, totally betrayed, wailing "I want MAMAAAAA!"

But there was more! Because for some reason they had to give the vaccinations in two separate shots, one in each leg, so we had to convince Sarah to turn around on my lap and let the nurse do the same thing again. She pulled her tights all the way up and pushed her legs down between mine and wailed and shook her head and cried for Mama. But I kept holding her and the nurse kept yammering blah blah stickers blah blah Kindergarten blah blah irrelevant cheerful blather Kindergarten and after a minute she pulled her own tights partway down again, still crying, and let the nurse give her the shot and stick the band-aid on.

She cried while she slid down from my lap, shying away from my hug. She cried while she pulled her tights back up. She cried while she grabbed my purse and shoved it at me and hightailed it alone out of the examining room. She cried as the nurse called "Open the drawer by the door for your lollipop and stickers!" She cried fishing around in the treat drawer. Then, just as I was about to cry myself, she held up her stickers and announced "Princesses!" and immediately stopped crying.

What am I to take from this? Pick all that apply:

  • a) Parenting involves the never-ending realization that you can't protect your child from pain and may even be the agent of that pain
  • b) Sarah wants to go to Kindergarten *a lot*
  • c) We should sign ourselves up as conscientious vaccination objectors, tetanus be damned
  • d) Never underestimate the curative powers of a Disney cartoon printed on a piece of sticky paper
  • d2) Said curative powers are intensified if one's parents harbor an irrational hatred of Disney princesses.


Blogger WordsRock said...

Ah, shot day! A good time to be had by all!

8:40 AM  

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