Today my daughters and I are getting our flu shots. This is the latest we have ever received one but I guess the old adage “better late than never” can apply to us in this case. That being said, I go to this appointment today fearing a repeat of the 2008 flu shot fiasco. It was November of 2008 and my oldest daughter had just turned 6, my middle daughter had just turned 4 and my youngest daughter was 2. Always striving to be a good role model to her younger sisters, my oldest volunteered to get her flu shot first to show them “that it doesn’t hurt that bad.” Her father and I were very impressed and hoped this would alleviate any fears left residing in her sisters. 2 sets of eyes watched her every move. They could practically feel her braveness as she sat down in the chair, rolled up her sleeve and presented her arm to the doctor. Even when the doctor wiped a spot on her arm with the alcohol swab, my oldest daughter had everything under control. I remember thinking this could not be going any better. And then she saw the needle…
She started screaming “I don’t want it! I don’t want it” over and over at the top of her lungs. She broke her arm free of my gentle grasp and continued screaming. Her father and I tried to reason with her to calm her down. ”It’s okay sweetheart. You are doing so well.” “It is just a quick pinch and then it is all over.” “You need to get this needle because we don’t want you to get really sick with the flu.” Her response to everything we said was a loud, terrified – “I don’t want it!”
Meanwhile, her 4 year-old sister’s eyes were open so wide they were three times their normal size. To say she looked horrified is an understatement – she was absolutely petrified, frozen in terror, her eyes growing wider with each passing minute. She did not seem to have the capacity to move until I asked our oldest if she would like one of her sisters to go first instead. I had no sooner finished the question when I saw my 4 year-old dive under a chair on the opposite side of the room. She wrapped her arms around the leg of that chair and held on for dear life, her eyes now five times their normal size.
My 2 year-old daughter, who I am sure still did not understand why we were there or what the screaming was all about, was thrust into survival mode. Although blessed with free will, humans are still animals and my youngest daughter’s fight or flight response kicked in. She ran to the farthest corner of the room and curled up in the fetal position.
They were now all crying.
The particulars from this point on evade me but I do know that all three of my daughters received their flu shot. I do remember that the screaming and crying continued. And I do remember the smiles and understanding looks of the adults in the waiting room as we exited the doctor’s office.
This morning we reminisced, as we do every year, about the flu shot fiasco of 2008. My oldest daughter, who is now 10, asked if she could go first this year, prefacing with “I know the answer will probably be no.” My youngest daughter, who is now 6 said she wanted to go first. My middle daughter, who is now 8, said she wanted to go before the oldest but after me. In the end, they decided the order would go as follows:
Here’s to happier memories for “Flu shots 2013″.