by JESSE NEVE
I have a friend who freaks out about every little situation that arises in her life. I always listen patiently to her and quietly nod in understanding, but according to her, I don’t respond with “the correct” amount of anguish and pain over life’s daily adventures. She complains everything just falls into place for me, and I never have to endure any struggle or difficulty. I think perhaps it’s all in the way you look at each situation.
This story begins at 8 a.m. on a bright and sunny mid-July morning. My husband had just left for work and I gathered my crew: 8-year-old Sarah, 7-year-old Jon, 5-year-old Daniel, 2-year-old Ben and Papa (my father, 56, who has been living with us since his diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s over a year ago). I said, “Okay, today we’re going to go for a walk down to the lake, then we’ll come back and Jon and Daniel have their doctor’s checkups.”
I had barely gotten that schedule out of my mouth when Jon blasted, “Doesn’t Daniel have to get shots when he’s 5?” Daniel instantly burst into tears. Shoot. I had forgotten that. I think I would have presented it in a slightly different way than Jon’s blunt question. I tried to comfort Daniel, who was now not only upset at the prospect of shots, but mad at Jon for reminding me.
The appointments were technically for Jon and Daniel and sometimes we leave the other kids in the doctor’s playroom with Papa while the rest go into the exam room. But today I wanted the doctor to look at the rash Sarah had recently gotten on her face, and I knew Ben would fuss if he didn’t get to come along, so we all planned to go in to the exam room. When our names were called, Papa decided to stay in the waiting room, which would prove to be a wise decision on his part. We followed the unfamiliar and unfriendly nurse out of the waiting room. Apparently our regular, super-friendly nurse was on vacation.
Her first mission was to weigh and measure Jon and Daniel. Jon popped out of his shoes and hopped up on the scale. During this time I was holding Ben and my purse and the bag of books and snacks. Jon was excited to hear how much he weighed, and he bounced off the scale to make room for his brother. Daniel had tennis shoes on and he flat-out refused to take them off. I set Ben down (which sent him into a deafening fit of tears) and I handed my bags to Sarah. Daniel was fervently pressing his feet into the floor making it extremely difficult to remove his shoes. When I finally succeeded, I lifted him up and he hung like a wet noodle as I tried to set him on the scale. I would get him to stand for a second, but not long enough for the digital scale to register before he jumped off. The whole time he was crying and yelling, “No! No! No!” Ben was clinging to my legs crying to be picked up. The nurse overflowed with empathy as she rolled her eyes and chirped, “Oh, come on! You’re 5! Five-year-olds don’t act like this!” Sarah peeled Ben off of my leg, and I picked Daniel up and stepped on the scale myself.
I held Daniel long enough for the scale to register, “182 minus … ” then I set Daniel down and climbed on alone “… minus 128 equals … ” And the nurse answered, “54 very good.” An old couple nearby had been watching our escapades. The lady shook her head in amazement, “Now THAT’S an experienced parent! Very impressive!”
As we made our way down the hall, I picked up Ben who was still crying. Daniel kept trying to get me to carry him as well.
As we made our way down the hall, I picked up Ben who was still crying. Daniel kept trying to get me to carry him as well. Sarah was walking behind me moaning and raving about how heavy the bags were and she was going to DIE because she had to carry them. Thankfully, she did not.
Jon climbed happily up into the chair and proceeded to tell the nurse how much he loved to get his blood pressure taken because it feels like his arm is going to blow up—but then it doesn’t (again, thankfully). Next, it was Daniel’s turn. After I lifted him into the chair, he held his arm tight against his body and wouldn’t let the nurse touch him. Eventually I was able to pry his arm away enough to put the cuff on. That started the cry and wiggle fest again. He kept trying to break out of the seat and he kept yelling, “NO! NO!”
Daniel has had his blood pressure taken before, so he knew what would happen. I’m sure he was thinking only of the shot and he was mad at the world because of it. Also, Daniel does NOT like to be the center of attention, and when he is, he’ll fight it. I understand this mindset because it’s exactly how I was. But, I grew out of it … around age 23!
With brotherly love, Jon sincerely volunteered to take an extra blood pressure test for Daniel, but the nurse wasn’t amused. She finally ended up entering, “unable to get blood pressure” on his chart and left us alone to wait for the doctor.
Dr. Burns is our favorite doctor. We’ve known him forever. He delivered our babies. Literally, he was the first person to ever see Daniel. So, Daniel is always comfortable with this man. He even LIKES him. But today with the shots looming over his head, it was a different story. When it was his turn to be examined, I had to lift him onto the table (where he is VERY capable of climbing himself). I had to hold him down while the doctor checked him out. He refused to talk to the doctor. He refused to open his mouth so the doctor could look in his mouth. Oh, and then, don’t you know, we realized Daniel had picked THAT DAY to go commando! So, when the doctor checked him out, there was nothing under his shorts! I could just feel the “Mother of the Year” award slipping away …
Next, they needed to have their vision tested. We all trucked out into the hall where our ever-so-cheery nurse pointed at a vision chart and Daniel (still crying) was supposed to read the letters. He continually proclaimed his animosity toward this plan, but finally we got him to whisper four of the letters to me so she could at least get a number to write on the chart.
We had saved the best for last. Daniel was in for four shots. Two nurses came in and Daniel started crying. He got a shot in each arm and each thigh. He screamed and howled with the most amazing intensity. I have given birth and not been as loud as he was. Sarah, Jon and Ben were cowering in the corner of the room with their hands covering their ears. When he finally stopped, Sarah proclaimed, “Holy loudness, man!”
So, as we exited the exam room (Daniel wearing only one shoe because he refused to put the other one on), there were four nurses at the nurse’s station who were smiling and shaking their heads saying, “tough day for him, huh?” We picked up Papa in the waiting room and the receptionist looked sympathetic (or relieved) as we left the building.
On the positive side, I was thankful Jon was really cooperative with the doctor and nurses. I was thankful Sarah was able to play with Ben and talk to him when I was busy holding Daniel down repeatedly. I was thankful our doctor is easy going and doesn’t get stressed out at such ordeals. We are all thankful Daniel doesn’t need any more shots until he’s 12.
At supper time that night, when Dad asked about our days’ adventures, Daniel replied, “Dad, I got FOUR shots today. It hurt and I cried.” End of story.
So, I shake my head when my friend makes claims like, “Everything always goes perfectly for you,” or, “You never have any problems.” I just file days like this away under the category “Some days are like that.”
NOTE: A year later, we had Daniel’s age 6 and Jon’s age 8 checkups. It went completely smooth with the exception of Daniel only wanting to read the eye chart for one eye. Well, if that was the worst of it, we are doing good! Some days are like that, too!
JESSE NEVE is a freelance writer from Minnesota.