Friday, September 17, 2010

A Shot In The Dark

I knew there would be tears yesterday; that’s expected when you take three little kids to get their flu shots. However, I wasn’t expecting both my mom and I to end up laughing so hard at the kids that we were crying, too. Even looking back, I don’t know how a trip to the pediatrician turned into a Comedy Central special, but it did.

First let me say that I don’t know what the protocol is for telling your kids they’re going to get a shot. Do you warn them a week in advance? A day? How about 15 minutes prior to departure when they ask why they need to get their shoes on? I went with option C because my son, six years old, is a pathological dreader, and the more time he has to worry about something, the worse that thing becomes in his mind. Like if he gets in trouble and I say “I’m gonna tell your dad about this when he gets home,” if that’s twenty minutes from then, he’s a little anxious, but still functioning normally. But, if it’s going to be another five hours before my husband gets home, then my son has his bags packed for the orphanage and a copy of his last will and testament in his hands. Thus the short notice on the flu shot.

Well, I was shocked at the level of frenzy he managed to work himself into in a mere quarter of an hour. The wailing began before I even put the punctuation on the sentence telling him where we were going. By the time I wrangled him into the van, a la goat herder, he was acting crazy enough to qualify for government assistance. And this is the juncture where I should point out that his four year old twin sisters were fine. One of them was smiling and fairly pleased with the opportunity to get out of the house, the embodiment of “no fear”, and the other one was only concerned enough to have a slight chin quiver, but no actual resistance.

Fast forward fifteen ear-piercing minutes and we’re in the waiting room, garnering looks of pity from other patients who are just glad they don’t have whatever my son has, which unbeknownst to them is only a lethal case of trepidation. The nurse came and escorted us to the room in the back where the shots were going to be administered and that whole scene was like something straight out of Dead Man Walking or The Green Mile. Really, if for whatever horrible reason my son is ever sentenced to execution, I’m quite certain his walk to the death chamber won’t be any more terrifying than the 50 foot march he was subjected to yesterday.

Mom and I finally lost it when all three kids were lined up on the table awaiting the executioner. I was signing that release that asks if they’ve been sick in the last two weeks – No. If they’re allergic to chicken or eggs – No, though I’d love to see that validated by my son actually eating eggs. And the last question “Is anyone in the household pregnant?” – No, but, wait, what kind of shot poses a threat if just someone in the house is pregnant? Does the recipient of the shot emit some kind of harmful radiation post-injection? Is that why my son was frightened beyond words? I looked up and saw that my son had his fingers hooked on his bottom jaw, like he was auditioning for a Scooby-Doo movie and screaming like he was engulfed in flames. He wasn’t. He was however about to cause permanent hearing damage for everyone within a ten mile radius. Beside of him sat two little girls, all dressed in pink, swinging their feet back and forth and smiling while protecting their own ears by covering them with their little hands. I never have the video camera when I really need it.

The twins went first. One of them barely whimpered when they injected her because she’s made of tough stuff, possibly oxidized steel and duct tape. But, when they were done and it was Scooby’s turn, he started begging for his life, literally throwing himself on the mercy of the court. In the span of thirty seconds, he said the following: “Can I just come back tomorrow? I won’t do it! Get away from me!” and here’s where it took a dramatic turn “It’ll kill me! I’ll die!” Mom and I, not having access to horse tranquilizers or a straight jacket, had to restrain him with all of our strength while he got the shot. Which, for the record, is not the same as being shot, though he didn’t seem to grasp that.

When we got him off the table, he started limping out of the room. Full-on dead leg hobble, refusing to even set that foot on the ground. His sisters were giggling and racing out to the van. It was hilarious, even the nurse was laughing at that point.

I’m pretty sure I’ll just risk him getting the flu next year, unless a nurse can be dispatched to my home in the middle of night to administer the shot as he’s sleeping. And let me just say, he’s got nothing left in the reaction arsenal for when encounters an actual crisis. Broken bones, masked intruders, plagues of locusts; I won’t know. Because his screams and emotions couldn’t possibly be more potent than when he was six and got a flu shot. And I will be saving this story for when his younger sisters need to pull it out and level future playing fields.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Holidays I Skip

My mom left a message on our answering machine yesterday to remind us that it was Grandparent’s Day. “Don’t worry,” she said, “we can wait and celebrate when I come down there on Wednesday.” Sure, and while we’re at it, let’s start celebrating Arbor Day, and Washington’s birthday, and Columbus Day. I mean, at least Christopher Columbus discovered America (well, not really, but that’s another blog for another day). All grandparents did was have children that got pulled into the same vicious cycle of parenting as them. And those marketing tyrants over at Hallmark decided to capitalize on this common coincidence. But, how dare them try to shove another greeting card obligation down our throats! I saw on the Today show last week that the mark-up on cards is like 200%. So, their money-lust really should be satisfied by all the birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day cards we buy. I remember one year when my kids got Easter cards in the mail and my initial reaction was “What sucker bought them Easter cards?” Their grandparents, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against the idea of cards. I got some that I really loved for my birthday this year. But they’ve gone on to that big American Greeting Graveyard in the sky. Cards at my house have about a four day shelf life, which is still a much higher survival rating than they get with my brother. He opens and reads cards above his garbage can to expedite their disposal. Even if they warm his heart or make him laugh, they’re read and gone. Because he’s a practical guy and he has never seen any point in holding onto things like that. I don’t know what the opposite of a pack rat is, a smart cookie maybe, but that’s him. And every time I see one of those Oprah specials about hoarders, I’m reminded of the superiority of this way of thinking. I know his grandchildren will appreciate it when they don’t have to dig their inheritance out of 40 tons of mildewed sentimental refuse. They’ll also appreciate not feeling obligated to send him said sentiments.

On a related note, I’m not a big fan of the written thank-you cards either. To me it’s just Emily Post legalism, plain and simple. If I say thank-you when I get a gift from you, or you do something nice for me, why the big charade over mailing a note? It’s like saying, “I’m so thankful I’m wasting postage.” Can’t we just get by on the verbal gratitude? I got a thank-you text the other day and I loved it. I was like “And thank you, friend, for saving me a trip to the trash can.”

I'm not sure what Mom wants or expects for Grandparent’s Day. Clearly, I can’t afford gifts because I had three kids! I suppose I could make a cake, mostly because I’m always looking for an excuse to eat cake. I could probably loan her the grandchildren in question for a day, or a week, or even a half a month. That seems like an appropriate gift for the occasion, does it not? All I know is that if she’s hoping for some greeting cards, she better not be holding her breath.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Justice Is Blind (And, Apparently, A Cheapskate)

I’m officially a grown-up. I know because I finally got summoned for jury duty, and I’m so excited! I know I’m not supposed to be, that most people try to get out of jury duty, but I’ve always thought it would be a cool gig. Probably because Hollywood glamorizes it and I’ve read one too many John Grisham books. And the letter itself seems so serious and dramatic, with a bar code and at least three levels of bold. A good half of it is in all caps, too, so you know they mean business.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the second page and saw the heading: Payment. Well, that high was short lived because within the first sentence I realized that McDonald’s pays five times as much. I’ll get $12.00 for the first day, $20.00 a day for the next four days, then $40.00 a day for every day after five days. (For the record, I’m gonna have to drag this thing out at least a week and a half, if I’m going to afford those new shoes I want.)

I scoffed, aloud, and asked my husband what $12.00 divided by eight hours is. $1.50 an hour! “THAT’S RIDICULOUS!” I said in all caps. “Honey, that’s a dollar-fifty more per hour than you make right now,” my husband so kindly brought to my attention, causing me to fall into a downward spiral of depression.

But, that’s okay, because I was already counting on some kingpin sending his hired thugs to the swanky hotel I’ll be sequestered at to offer me a bribe. Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to take the money without sacrificing justice. And, yes, I do think I’ll be sequestered at a really nice downtown hotel, and be provided with three delicious restaurant meals every day, because the government was obviously budgeting for this eventuality when they were determining our monetary compensation. I’m sure they know that you can’t put a price on 800 thread count sheets or 24-hour room service.

The summons goes on to say business casual attire is required. Yay! I never get to dress “business casual”. I may even need to purchase some wardrobe additions for the occasion. Then, after some notes of no concern to me, the letter mentions that Children are not allowed. Say no more, I’m sold. And, Absolutely NO weapons (scissors, knives, knitting needles, etc.) Wait, they’re listing knitting needles but not guns? Does “no guns” go without saying? And if someone can turn a juror’s knitting needle into a weapon, I say let ‘em. That’d be worth the price of admission.

So, next month I could be getting paid to sit and listen to people argue all day, instead of doing it for free while I fold the accused’s laundry. I’ll get to dress up and meet new people, people that know how to take a person down with a knitting needle! I can’t wait!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sugar, Spice, And Everything Nice?

This blog is dedicated to my brother’s wife, who is pregnant with their first child and recently found out they are expecting a girl. Well, L, here’s what you’re really expecting: DRAMA! And based on how poorly my brother handled my own female theatrics growing up, I’d say you’ll be managing a lot of these productions on your own while he seeks refuge in an ESPN bubble.

You know how, as women, we all have those days where we don’t like anything in our closet? Well, this morning, my daughter was frantic that her new Hello Kitty shirt was in the clothes hamper, still, a full twelve hours after she had deposited it there. I pointed out that she had two drawers of cute alternatives. “I don’t like those clothes!” None of them? Almost everything she had was clean except for the beloved Hello Kitty shirt. And, for the record, she picked out half of those items herself during shopping expeditions. But, I get it. I picked out all of my clothes, and there are days when I’d like a complete do over with my wardrobe. I finally talked her into a skirt that she loved as recently as last week, but even as she walked out of the room I heard her grumbling that “This skirt doesn’t even twirl.” How is she going to handle something like not getting the lead in the school play if she can’t even handle a skirt that doesn’t twirl?

Next, as I assisted the other girl in her Friday clothing selection, she said, “I’m not going to like J so much anymore.” Two things of note here; first, J, a boy, is one of her closest friends, and second, these were actually her first words of the morning. My response was, “Why?” She started digging through their accessory drawer, putting on several bracelets and headbands and necklaces without choosing a single one that matched her outfit, and then turned to me and explained, “I just don’t want to like him too much, because he likes my sister more than me.” I was speechless. He actually does like her sister more than her. But, mostly, I was impressed at her ability to reason herself out of a crush. Here’s hoping she can keep that up for the next twenty years.

Earlier this summer the girls told me they were going to marry J. Both of them. They were blissfully unaware that this wouldn’t work out and there was no point in correcting them. But, I remember wondering why they were thinking about marriage. They’ve never even been to a wedding, so it was really out of nowhere. My son has yet to give matrimony a single thought, and based on studies of the male species, probably won’t until he’s in his mid to late twenties. Nor does my son act like every injustice served to him (be that in the form of green beans or whatever) is the end of the world. The girls seem to suffer irreparable emotional distress three or four times an hour. “You took the doll I wanted to play with!” one of them will scream through a torrent of tears. “I got it first!” the other one will point out needlessly. “Well, I’m not your friend anymore! And, I’m never talking to you again!” Um, overreact much?

And even at this young age, they talk about their feelings. I’m not sure how my brother will handle this with his daughter, since, as far as I know, the only feelings he’s ever experienced are of disappointment when the Jets lose. But, it comes up all the time. They’ll tell me how they felt nervous the first time they went to the dentist, how they felt sorry for the kid that got in trouble at the pool, or how sad they were when another little girl at church wouldn’t play with them. Once, and I’m not making this up, the twin that was born second looked at my mother and said, “I was so lonely and scared when I was in Mommy’s tummy by myself.” If she’s going to take her mommy issues back that far and be upset over those two minutes, then I give up!

Good luck, L; maybe your little girl won’t struggle with fashion or overactive emotions. Maybe she won’t walk around trying to win an Academy Award for best dramatic performance on a Tuesday afternoon. Maybe her hair won’t get tangled, and her size won’t ever matter. Maybe she’ll never cry about being left out, or have her heart broken by a boy. But, if any of these things happen, and she’s standing there clenching her fists and weeping loudly, and my brother says, “I don’t know why she’s crying.” Please tell him she’s crying because he called me a cry baby. Tell him this is restitution for him always telling me I was too dramatic.