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Yesterday I took Jake to his pediatrician to get a couple of shots. I used to hate this so much, because Jake was a runner. He would be fine on the way to the doctor, fine throughout the examination. But as soon as he saw the nurse come in with those needles, he was off.
We would usually just let him run for a while. Let him tire himself out a bit before trying to catch him and hold him. A bribe usually worked: lunch at his favorite restaurant if he sat still for the shots, or a candy bar. Whatever he wanted, I didn’t care. I would’ve written him a blank check if he’d requested one.
Things started to change when his sister was old enough to see what was going on. They usually went in for their shots together, and he would try to be brave for her, and it was the cutest thing ever. Yesterday the nurse reminded me of the first time he really tried to help. He had sobbed all through the shots, but then as soon as he was done, he wiped the snot off of his face, turned to his sister, and said through tears “It wasn’t so bad, Fiona!”
Eventually he went from me holding him down tight during the shots, to just sitting on my lap, to sitting next to me, squeezing my hand.
Then yesterday, we went in for Tdap and a flu shot. After the exam, when the nurse and doctor were out of the room, Jake looked at me with his puppy-dog eyes and said “I don’t want to get a shot.” And knowing my son, knowing that he would appreciate a laugh more than coddling, I answered “Well, it’s your lucky day – you’re getting two shots!” And he laughed.
The doctor came back in and we started chatting. And without me really noticing, the nurse was suddenly giving Jake his shots, on the other side of the room. She asked him if he wanted me, and he said “No, I’m good.” And I watched in amazement as he gritted his teeth and looked out the window and waited for it to be over.
So much easier than when he used to run away. But hard for other reasons. I will never tell him this – I told him I was proud of his bravery and left it at that – but I was a little sad that he didn’t need me. Just a little.
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