In years past we were late to the flu shot bandwagon. Usually it was mid-December and the Christmas season was in full swing before we were ‘on the schedule.’ This year was going to be different.
While at a well check for my seven-year-old daughter in early September, I noticed they already had signs up for flu shots. I found a date that worked for us and signed up all four kids for a 6pm slot two days later. I couldn’t believe my luck. We were gonna be done with flu shots even before the Christmas decorations hit the shelves at Costco…October 1st! How great was that? I was gonna be the envy of carpool and soccer practice! I swore my daughter to secrecy, since my two youngest kids are terrified of shots and I didn’t want to alarm them.
At about 5:30 on the day of the shots, I tell the kids we have to run a quick errand before meeting up with some friends for dinner. They are excited. We are in the driveway, on our way to the van, when my five-year-old son inexplicably asks, “Dad, where are we going?” What? You can’t ask that! I already said we were running a quick errand before dinner. Before I can answer, my seven-year-old daughter responds nonchalantly, “To get flu shots.” Oh no, this could get ugly!
It does…my two-year-old and five-year-old are crying before we even got to the van. I have the unenviable task of buckling two sobbing kids into their carseats. Now, I just need to drive the twenty minutes to the pediatrician’s office, sign in, wait in line, get the shots and drive back. Other than a couple of crying kids in the middle row of the van, everything is fine. No problem! We’ve got this.
By the time we arrive at the pediatrician’s office, things in the van have calmed down. The real fun starts when we walk in the front door of the office. We get a few smiles from the receptionists. Fortunately my kids are extroverts, so they enthusiastically say hello and smile back. The receptionist asks if we want the shot or the nasal spray. Since I am trying to avoid high-level sibling negotiation among four kids at the doctor’s office, I opt for the shot for all of them. Besides, shots build character. I sign the consent forms in quadruplicate before heading back to the holding area to wait for an exam room. Things are going well. The kids are chatting, smiling and laughing. I answer the usual questions…
“Yes, they are all mine.”
“Yes, they all do look alike.”
“No, their mom is at work. I stay home with them full time.”
Finally, it is our turn. We are escorted to an exam room for the shots. The kids’ mood suddenly takes on a more serious tone. Doing my best to turn the tide and keep it light hearted, I opt for one more silly picture before the nurse gets started.
We’ve got this!
Band-aids in place, we thank the nurse (between sobs), exit the room and head for the lollipops. With one hysterical kid in each arm, we make our way to the exit, as I smile politely at the curious onlookers waiting for their turn.