My daughter began telling people she was “almost 5” sometime in November. Well, March finally rolled around and she actually turned the big 5. She is quite proud to be 5 and apparently fully grown and tells everyone she meets (usually several times) that she is now 5.
In all of her excitement, she managed to forget that part of the ‘turning another year older’ festivities is a trip to the pediatrician’s office for a well child check-up. I tend to prefer the well child trips to the sick child trips for many reasons: no one is actually sick, it’s free, and it usually goes more quickly because the office knows ahead of time what will be happening that day. However, these visits also often include a shot or two…or in this case, THREE, to finalize the big girl’s ability to head to Kindergarten in the fall.
Now, I know it always seems awful when you have to take your baby or toddler to the doctor numerous times during the first 2 years of their little lives, holding them down as they unknowingly wait to receive shots at every visit. The kid cries and gives you dirty looks while you cry and give the nurse dirty looks for making you hold the poor kid down to be poked and the nurse gives you a dirty look for giving her a dirty look for just doing her job; it’s a vicious cycle and nothing seems worse.
Then the kids get older and start realizing what is about to occur before you even get to the doctor’s office. They can’t remember something you told them to do 3 seconds ago, but they can remember in vivid detail the horrors of the 1 hour at the doctor’s office a year ago. Selective memory is a fantastic thing. This is where I found myself yesterday, with all three of my kids in tow.
It is a well-known fact that my daughter is quite the drama queen, especially when it comes to the doctor (see my previous post from our trip for flu shots last year). I know how dramatic she can be so I brace myself for the inevitable meltdown and try to distract her while in the waiting room. (For the record, I did warn her ahead of time that shots might be involved because I really couldn’t remember what happens at age 5 and didn’t want to lie and say no but I also did what any other intelligent mom of three would do and avoided further questioning):
“Mom, do I have to get a shot?”
“Sweetie, why don’t you see if your brother needs help with his book.”
“Mom, I’m not getting any shots, right?”
“Why don’t you have a drink of water?”
“Mom, do they have to poke my finger?”
“Let’s go see if you can pee-pee in a cup!”
(Notice my super ability to change the subject to more fun things like assisting a 5-year-old girl with peeing in a cup? I won’t give you exact details on how that went, but you can imagine the excitement, especially with a toddler who’s trying to reach into the trashcan and a 6-year-old who thought it could be fun to try to pee behind his sister while she was on the toilet with mom’s hand holding the cup)
They called her name quickly, which thrilled me, and we headed back to the area with the scale and the eye chart and all those other little gadgets the nurses use to check growth and ability during the pre-doctor time.
My big girl hops on the scale and says to the nurse, “I don’t want to do the finger poke.” The nurse just keeps measuring her without making eye contact.
Then she is measured for height and says, “Mom, you can tell her that I don’t need the finger poke.”
I wisely ignore her and comment on how she has grown this year. Then she gets her eyes, ears, blood pressure and head measured and continues to make the same comment after each test until she is finished with everything but the infamous finger poke, at which point she starts to catch on that no one has really responded and she desperately asks, “I don’t have to get the finger poke, right?”
We have no choice but to tell her that it is time for the finger poke. Her response was as expected. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” Luckily, the nurse was quick and had a bandaid on her finger before she could react too much. She still let out the obligatory wail for 3 seconds and then she calmed down as we walked back to the exam room where she got to wear a cool gown with bears on it.
I got a little distracted while waiting on the doctor because my toddler was busy digging in the trash, looking for outlets, climbing on chairs and trying to open every drawer in the room. So, I forgot all about the shots until the doctor entered the room. My previously fine daughter then pounced on me unexpectedly, clinging to my hair for dear life and cried out, “HELP ME, MOMMY! Tell her I don’t need shots today!”
Again, I did my best to distract her by holding her hand as I corralled the baby by wrapping my leg around his waist. He was less pleased than my daughter. She behaved very well with each little thing the doctor did and I think she was starting to believe that things would turn out her way until the doctor whispered, “She’s starting school in the fall so we do have a few shots that she needs before she can register.”
Cut back to her screaming bloody murder and crying huge crocodile tears. For some reason, this made her OLDER brother freak out and decide that he was going to bust out of that room until the shots were over (why he chose this precise moment to have sympathy for his sister is beyond me) and it made her little brother start to cry because he couldn’t figure out why everyone else was crying. (This is before the nurse ever came in with shots, mind you – a slightly premature freak out on everyone’s part except for mommy, who is still trying to keep toddler in check by yanking him away from the socket with my big toe, which fortunately turned out to be very strong).
Finally, the nurse came in, shots were administered, and everyone calmed down when they all realized that things weren’t quite as bad as they had imagined. My daughter was actually pretty proud of her Spongebob bandaids which covered her 3 little injection sites and I’m sure will be showing them off to everyone today at school so that they too can see how tragically brave she was. And, as expected, she walked very slowly to the waiting room and out of the exit while telling everyone who made eye contact with her that she could barely walk because she had to get shots.
Who knows when this drama will end, but I am hoping that year 6 will bring along a girl who doesn’t scream like she is being tortured to the very brink of death over minimal shots and “finger pokes”. At least I know what to expect at this point. She’s a drama queen and just playing her role in life. Nothing a little smoothie from McDonald’s can’t fix! 🙂