Addy and I were a pair of sad girls today. Our morning errands consisted of dragging both of us out in the wind and cold to get shots, Addy for her flu vaccine booster and me for my blood draw. Fun stuff! I always feel like such a monster when I have to hold her little leg still as the nurse plunges the needle into her unsuspecting self. Her eyes widen with shock for about three seconds, and then the wail of outrage and betrayal begins as giant crocodile tears well up and spill down her cheeks.
When I emerge from the exam room to make Addy's next appointment, all the people in the waiting room look up at me with cold eyes, like, "Oh, there's that lady whose poor baby was screaming in pain just a moment ago. Look at her, so callous and cold." Well, actually, they're probably just thinking, "When is it going to be my turn so I can get out of this germ-infested holding pen?" But I feel as though I'm being judged. And as I scheduled Addy's fifteen-month checkup (I'm behind, I know,) I remembered that she'll be getting four shots at that particular visit. Really, would it be so excessive to ask if she could have some sort of sedation beforehand? I mean, four shots is a lot! I think I might cry. And shots hurt a lot more than just getting your blood drawn, as I rediscovered last month when I got my flu shot. I feel so sorry for her. Poor kid.
I know I've said this before, but I just really think being a kid is so rough. Every five minutes, practically, something is being taken from you, or you're being forced to eat or get in the car or take a nap when it's not what you wanted to do at all. And then the grown-ups get frustrated when you're not just thrilled to uncomplainingly follow their agenda all day long. But the worst must be the scary things like daycare and new babysitters and of course medical procedures, which are constantly and unexpectedly being thrust upon you.
Doctor's visits used to terrify me so much. I remember I would fret about it for at least two days beforehand, the knot in my stomach growing larger and larger the closer the appointment loomed. So I guess I should at least be grateful that Adelay is too young to be consumed with dread about the shots. That will just be me, feeling tense and anxious and miserable the day of the appointment.
But, that's life. And even as I squirm and grimace my way through these vaccine-filled couple of years, I am very thankful that we live in a time and a country where immunizations are available, and where the most discomfort my child is likely to experience is a shot, and not a life-threatening illness. And I feel so much for parents whose children are truly ill. Whenever I'm in a store and I see a flier or donation container for a child with cancer, I feel a jolt of shock and horror. I want to rewind the moment and erase from my mind the very idea that children can get sick. That children can die.
Well, sorry. That was depressing. It's just that life can be such a dull, tedious thing some days, but just throw out there the thought that at any moment it could be snatched from me, and I feel an almost physical compulsion to pull close and protect my life and the lives of those I love. In her January second post, good old Catherine Newman was talking about how she lives much of her life in a state of "anticipation of grief;" that is, that she is simultaneously overwhelmed with her blessings and terrified that those blessings will be taken from her, for surely such luck must run out some time. And that is exactly, exactly how I feel. It's just such a delicate balance, this life of ours.