flu shots

Steven and I took the kids for flu shots today. As much as that sounds like a super fun family outing I knew it would be trouble. I've been pestering Steven for a week and a half to let his boss know that he had to leave work today so that he could be at the clinic by 3:30. There's no way I could take four kids for needles without help.

Three of the four might have been okay, but it was the fourth one that would be trouble. By fourth I don't mean fourth born. If the fourth born had freaked out I'd probably be able to manage it.

We didn't tell the kids they were getting needles today. I didn't want to ruin their days with worry and anxiety. I thought it would be best to just surprise them with it after picking up Jordan from school. It really was a surprise. I told them yesterday that we'd go to the library after school today to swap out some books. When Jordan hopped into the van in the pickup loop she pointedly reminded me that today was library day. I told her we had one stop to make first. When she asked where we were going I said it was kind of a secret and they'd see when we got there. I hesitated to use the term surprise. I don't want to ruin all future surprises, and to make them think something fun was coming and then stick them with needles seems kind of mean.

I pulled up in front of the PCU Centre at 3:35. The kids excitedly ran from the van, over the rocks, through the grass and into the front doors. Jordan didn't notice the giant sign that directed victims to the flu clinic. The first station was to fill out a form for each person getting a flu shot. Steven was already there and had done four of the six forms already. We joined him at the table. The kids were still happy and didn't know what was going on. They saw a nice lady from Awana there and it made their day. They peered through a crack in the partition and saw clear buckets with what appeared to be markers inside.

Yeah, markers.

Finally we lined up on our side of the partition.

"What are we doing?" they asked.
"Waiting in line," we said. "You'll see in a minute."

Imagine their joy when a nurse plucked us out of the line and lead us to a table laid out with needles and latex gloves.

Jordan was the first to sit quietly and anxiously under the table. Mitchell joined her.

"It'll be quick guys," I said. "We'll get Tim Bits after. Who wants to go first? Whoever gets the first needle gets to pick the first Tim Bit."

Tennyson, who had been whining "No, no, no," but who also very motivated by snacks volunteered to go first. He sat sideways on my lap and I could tell he was anxious, but when the needle came at him he screamed, and may have actually screamed more after it was done. I don't think he realized it was done, and when he did he was fine. His first words were "can I have a sucker?" See? Snacks and treats.

Mitchell started to cry when Tennyson screeched, even though Tennyson said moments later that it actually didn't even hurt. We grabbed Mitchie and stuck him next. It was over quickly and we brushed away his few tears and moments later he was happily enjoying a sucker.

Elliot hopped up on my lap next, wondering what all the fuss was about. I think she thought it was kind of a game, and when she saw them open up the needle she did a mock imitation of the whine/cry the other two had done, but she wasn't really bothered too much at all by the experience. I don't know if she's cried at all for the last few needles she's had. She's a tough cookie.

Then I took a deep breath and geared up for the fourth child. Not just the fourth child, but the fourth child. The child that has cried her heart out for every needle she's ever had, the child who had to be physically restrained by myself and a nurse while she fought tooth and nail to avoid her kindergarten needle. The fourth child who is easily anxious. The fourth child who had sat under the table looking more and more horrified each time one of her siblings and next her parents had been stuck with a needle. The fourth child who was now crawling for the exit.

She made it to the door and took off at a dead run. Steven tried to chase her. She made it halfway through the building and into the women's washroom where she hid in the furthest stall from the door. I'm pretty sure he had to carry her back. By then the other three kids were eating suckers and Steven and I were both done. All that was left was Jordan. I left her for last on purpose, partly because I wanted her to see that nobody else was horribly scarred by the experience, but more because I knew what was coming and I knew that if the other kids saw the drama of Jordan getting a needle it was going to freak them all out. Steven sat on a chair and cradled her while she cried and became more and more worked up. I suggested (as the nurse had offered) that they take her to the private area in the corner to do it so she wouldn't feel like everyone was watching her. Steven carried her over there and I took the other three kids to the waiting area. I could hear her crying from where we were now watching a movie. One of the nurses came out and offered to watch the younger three kids while I went and helped so I did. The nurse administering the needle said that if we wanted to make an appointment and do her on a different day that would be okay. There would be no way to make this better for Jordan so I declined. I had warned the nurse earlier that it was going to be like this and that the moment we got her arm bared and got her still enough she was to just do it.

Steven held her tight on his lap and I hugged her tight around him and they stuck her while she struggled to escape. If it was possible she cried even harder. The worst is when she knows it's coming and yells "Mommy! Mommy!" I feel pretty guilty. The nurses gave her a sucker and brought her a bottle of water as we sat with her and coached her to calm down and take deep breaths. I told her it was okay to be scared and it was okay to cry. We waited. When she came down from her panic we went to the recovery/movie area and sat with all the kids for a few minutes to make sure nobody was developing weird supernatural powers from the shot. The nurse came back to check on her a few minutes later, but Jordan made pretty sure not to talk to her anymore than she had to.

We gathered up our kids and their piles of stuff and left. The younger three ran ahead and Steven kept up. Jordan hung back and stalked along behind me, her hood up and her hands in her pockets, glaring at the ground in front of her. I hung back and walked with her.

"Are you really really mad at me?" I asked.
"Mmm, hmmm." she replied.
"Are you really really mad at Daddy?"
"Mmm hmmm."
"Do you still love me?"
"Mmm hmm."
"I'm glad. It's okay. You can be mad at me for a little while. But not too long, okay?"
"Mmm hmm."

She was pretty mad. At least until I gave her a few chocolate Tim Bits.
Later she said she never wanted to get a needle again. I said that she didn't have to, until next year.


Neodad said…
Good one! I would have used the word "surprise." Keeps 'em guessing down the road. And they will appreciate the good ones more. Hehehehe
Tiffany said…
That's awful! lol
Candice said…
Tiffany, you are awesome. That is all.
Tiffany said…
Thanks! What will be really awesome is if we have less sickness in this house this winter and fewer missed days of school!

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