My kids got misty-eyed when I told them that – since we were not Jewish – we would spend part of the Yom Kippur holiday from school getting flu shots.
Thus ensued several conversations with my 5-year-old daughter about inoculations, her idea of cruel and unusual punishment.
“Will it be just one shot?” she kept asking. She and her twin brother even came up with a survival plan: he would go first, she would go second, and their 2-year-old sister would go last.
“And keep your eyes closed,” my son told his sisters. “It makes it much better.”
Now although I’m probably guilty of over-coddling my children like most parents in my generation, I do actually believe that kids should have to digest reasonable doses of adversity. I know that trying to protect our children from any suffering does them a grave disservice.
Even though I sometimes still rip the sweatshirt out of my son’s hands, turn the sleeves right-side-in, and throw it back to him because we just need to get the hell out the door, I think it’s character building for my children to solve problems themselves. And I’m totally in favor of shots. No pain, no gain.
So you can imagine my disappointment when after sitting in my pediatrician’s waiting room for 15 minutes – saying things like, “Jane, stop licking the couch” – the nurse offered my children nasal mist instead of shots.
“Mist?” Georgia cried. “You didn’t tell us about that!”
“Can we get that?” Griffin asked.
I relented, and the trio happily inhaled the nasal spray, almost giddy at their unexpected stay of execution. And they still cajoled me into letting them select not only stickers but also lollipops from the plastic bins on the reception desk on the way out.
Then, I decided to show them how it was really done. Spying the “flu shots” sign at the Rite Aid across the street, I scooped up Jane, grabbed the twins’ hands, and marched them over.
“I’d like a flu shot,” I declared to the pharmacist. “Not the mist, the actual shot.”
“We only have the shots, anyway,” she told me.
“Will it hurt a lot?” Griffin asked.
“Probably,” I answered.
I think my children were actually disappointed when the pharmacist poked my arm and I didn’t leap out of the chair in pain. “See, shots are no big deal,” I proudly declared, as the gentle lady applied a Band-Aid to my arm.
“What?” Griffin cried. “You get a Band-Aid?”
“I want a Band-Aid,” Georgia bemoaned.
“Me, too,” whined Jane.
“Then next time,” I said, “get the shot!”