To turn my big boys into driveling babies all I need to do is announce we have an appointment for shots. Somehow this unfortunate chore has forever been placed on my plate as the parent who must endure their emotional trauma. This is in part due to my status as stay at home mom and the fact that my husband works during the doctor’s hours, but, there’s also this unwritten, assumed fact that he will not ever take this responsibility and bear the fallout that comes along with it. It would be easiest to holler and point my finger, “sexist!”, but I know better. He hasn’t got the steel magnolia qualities it requires to effectively manage a bunch of children who all at once lose their minds and regress at the mere mention of impending shots.
As we are preparing to go to Uganda very soon to adopt our sweet Kira, and we need to hover there for six weeks, we all have to be vaccinated and medicated to maintain our health. So one afternoon I take an hour to drive to three schools and sign out each child then drive into Houston to Passport Health Services. I could see them retreat into their gloom during the silent, stuffy ride there. It doesn’t matter how much I remind them it’s quick and it hardly hurts at all. In their minds they’ve escalated a shot to the same category as having a limb sawed off.
The nurse that day was most disorganized and overwhelmed with the paperwork. She was hardly equipped to manage four of us at once. This translates into all of us sitting in her small office for an hour and a half waiting for the shots to be delivered. That’s a little torturous. Jack started the drama when he watched me take my shots. (the yellow fever and the typhoid really do hurt like a tetanus! Oi.) While he obsessed over the details, paced the room, hid in the corner, and climbed onto my lap, the other bigger boys sunk into a deeper melancholy. They had the look in their eyes of caged animals. Eventually Jack couldn’t take it any longer as the nurse spoke to herself aloud adding up shots that equaled four for him, (he was only told there would be one that day). He began to cry, which escalated into a panic that required me to pin him down in my lap so she could poke him. I negotiated two shots only for that day and promised myself to do this again another day with his regular pediatrician. His crying dominoed over to Kevin who began to silently weep. He really didn’t want to be crying, knowing he is definitely too old for that response, but somehow he couldn’t help it. Jack ran for the lollipops as Jordan sat board stiff, lock jawed for his shots. I think he held his breath for too long because when she was finished he got clammy, sweaty, dizzy and nauseous. When Jack returned happily sucking a candy Jordan was being fussed over with ice, and being forced to lie down with his feet elevated. He nearly fainted and it took him a half hour to revive himself.
Really, it is comical. I didn’t laugh during the ordeal because my job was to help them through it and encourage them, but secretly I was amused at the same time I was exasperated. Do I get any sympathy from my darling husband who truly adores me for surviving this task? No. What do I have to say about that? Well, the next time it’s a gorgeous day and I feel like spending it outdoors as I please and thrusting all my work into the next day, I will happily order pizza for dinner and suffer not one wave of guilt because he was stuck in windowless meetings for twelve hours straight. Fair is fair.