The other day at the doctor's office, we were sitting in the waiting room where a dad and his two children were waiting their turn to go in and get flu shots. The little boy, Thomas, was 5 and a half. Caroline was 3. Dad was entertaining them and everyone was having a lovely time. The nurse came out to get them to do their shots, and said that she didn't have any in stock for the 3 year old, but that anyone "aged 5 and over" can come on in.
Doug turns to me and says "It is a good day to be under 5, I guess."
We heard the dad say that he wanted to go first. The nurse, who has been our doctor's nurse for as long as we've known him (mark this - he was our doctor in college, so since 1987 at least) stammered a little and said "we don't usually do it that way."
Dad wanted to show the little boy it was no big deal to get the shot, and insisted.
Thing is, with 20 something years of experience the nurses know that if you do the kids first they don't know what's coming and boom it is done. Seeing a needle go into your dad's arm, even if he doesn't freak out or panic or say "ouchies," is still something that a little kid may find disturbing.
And Thomas did.
He lost his mind. SCREAMING and crying and "I'm not ready!" and "I really don't want or need this shot after all!" Dad and the nurse were both trying to calm him and get him focused, but there was no joy in Mudville at that moment. Poor Thomas.
Doug and I both sat there chuckling uncomfortably, because you have this instinct to go in and try and help but you also know that really it is no big deal.
We talked about whether or not we remembered Geoff freaking out for shots and we didn't. He usually did incredibly well. Mostly because our doctor gave the shot, and would do something distracting to the kid like "hey, look at that thing on the wall, can you see that picture of the dog?" and the kid turns and looks at the picture and boom - done. "ouch!" a little surprise but usually no panic or upset as the lollipop appears or mommy gives the hug.
Thomas' meltdown went on and on for quite some time, and then we heard deep and most horrible sobbing as he got his flu shot.
The adult "that wasn't so bad!" response from the nurse and the dad did nothing to help. He was devastated. I'm wondering how much it really hurt or if he had knowledge that he freaked out over something so small that he was now ashamed and embarrassed, thus the tears.
I was in my appointment room getting my blood pressure taken (112/77 baby) and Doug reported that a flushed-red little blonde Thomas came out of the room, his sister leading the way. She tip toed up to the lollipops and got each of them one.
He said she didn't seem phased at all by witnessing the near mutilation and murduration of her older brother.
Truly, a good day to be under 5.