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“Lucy? Yep, come on back.”
The nurse shuffled a blonde-haired girl and her mother in the door leading back to the patient rooms, depriving Grant of the playmate he’d been interacting with at a table filled with sanitary non-dangerous toys. He walked back over and sat next to his dad, who was wishing he was anywhere but the office of his son’s pediatrician.
“Daddy, when is it going to be our turn, we’ve been here for hours,” asked a whiny Grant.
His father checked his watch and replied, “We’ve been here for three minutes, and we were a bit early, but anytime now.” Eyeing the ultra-sniffly child knuckle deep in his nose two seats over, he continued “I’m not crazy about being here either but the doctor has to make sure you’re happy and healthy.”
“Am I sick?”
“No buddy, just your four-year-old checkup, remember?”
He pondered for a moment “Oh yeah, that’s right. And the doctor gives me the shots?”
“Yep, that’s right.”
Grant’s four-year-old checkup came with a few vaccinations, as well as a flu shot. Since he didn’t listen to Jenny McCarthy or some of the people from his high school on Facebook, he knew Grant had no choice but to receive them. However, the actual act itself was causing him some stress.
He’d spent the morning pumping up Grant for how healthy the shots would make him. Being too young to remember his past immunizations, poor naive Grant couldn’t really comprehend what getting jabbed with a tiny needle was actually like. If he were anything like his father, he wouldn’t be much of a fan.
He checked his watch again, and as he did the sniffly child let out a whopper of a sneeze, sending mucus flying towards his opposite arm.
The boy’s mother walked past as they strode to the door, mildly embarrassed “Oh Aiden, please cover your mouth next time, that wasn’t very polite. I’m so sorry about that.” she said sheepishly.
Your child is a goddamn monster and now I’m going to have to dip my arm in Purel or set it on fire “Oh no problem at all, kind of to be expected at the doctor’s office.” He turned to Grant “We should be next up buddy…now get your finger out of your ear.”
Grant sat up in his chair and directed his eyes towards the Nick Jr. show that was playing on the TV in the lobby while his father pulled his phone out to do a brief scroll of Twitter. Partly because he was bored, but mostly to have a reason to avoid the glare of an elementary school-aged child in a seat across the room who was staring at him like he’d seen his face on a wanted poster.
The nurse reemerged, checked her clipboard and called “Grant?”
With a sigh of relief, he patted Grant on the back and motioned him to the door, feeling the heat of the other child’s mean mug on him until they passed into the hallway.
As he watched the nurse check Grant’s height and weight, the gaping monster at the end of the visit was lingering in his subconscious. Needles had never been his forte; he can’t imagine that his four-year-old would take them any better. Grant had always done fairly well at the doctor, mostly because his pediatrician was the most impossibly cheerful man on the planet, but all it takes is one bad experience to make the next few years of doctor’s appointments a hellish adventure.
After shepherding the pair into their room, the nurse got right down to business with “Ok, so we’re doing vaccinations and a flu shot today, correct?”
Father and son looked at each other, with Dad answering “Um, yep. How many total is that?”
“Four total,” she replied matter-of-factly, but then seeing borderline panicked looks on both father and son she quickly added, “But they go all at once, so it goes by quickly.”
He knew he had to act quickly to keep Grant’s morale up. “Hey buddy, once we get these shots done you’ll be super healthy and…” he panicked when he saw continued uncertainty in Grant’s eyes “…and we’ll go get ice cream later!”
Hearing “ice cream,” which was his own personal brand of heroin, seemed to pique Grant’s interest, but he still looked slightly distraught as he sat on the table in the room watching the nurse silently scribble on her pad. As the nurse got up to leave them to wait for the doctor, with Grant still struggling with morale, he blurted out, “How about I get a shot too?” As the nurse turned, he continued, “Can you guys do a flu shot for me too?”
“Uh yeah sure, just sign this form. It’ll be $20.”
If this $20 saves my kid from screaming the entire way out of here, it’ll be the best $20 I’ve ever spent. “Yep that sounds good to me.”
The nurse walked out the door leaving the one and a half men alone with their thoughts. Grant began to look at the Dr. Suess books they had as distraction material on the counter, while his father started to sweat a bit over his impending shot. He’d won the battle of getting his kid less spooked about his shots, but now he wasn’t sure he’d win the war of not emasculating himself in front of his child as the needle approached his arm.
Dr. Henry burst through the door with his usual pizzazz and enthusiasm “Hey there champ! Wow, you’re getting big! How old are you now? Four?!? Goodness! You must be eating your vegetables!” he exclaimed, glancing at his father for diet confirmation.
Actually yesterday he told me he was allergic to carrots, corn, green beans, and peas, then asked for ice cream. “Oh yeah, he eats pretty well, lots of fruit, and chicken and…yeah I mean pretty decent I guess,” he kind of stammered, remembering that he’d literally just promised the kid a big-ass ice cream cone immediately following this appointment.
Completely taken by Dr. Henry’s zest for his profession, Grant completely bought into his checkup, and by the end of his assessment, he was 100% convinced that he was the biggest and healthiest child on the planet. His father was certain that if Dr. Henry ever lost his medical license he could kill it as a motivational speaker.
As he watched Dr. Henry depart the room with a “You guys take it easy, and keep eating those veggies!” He knew it was game-time. There was barely time to think “Yeah Doc I’ll bet you my next paycheck that he won’t be eating any of those veggies,” before the nurses came in to deliver the goods.
As he rolled up his t-shirt sleeve over his shoulder he looked at Grant and blatantly lied “I can’t wait to get this shot and be so healthy.”
“Oh, we’re going to do his first, just knock them all out at once,” interjected the nurse, and much to his dismay.
“Ah, well ok buddy, a few little pinches and you’re all done.”
He held Grant’s hands as the nurses attended each arm and prepped him with rubbing alcohol. Uncertainty crept into his face, but before he could really process what was going down the nurses loaded him up with Jenny McCarthy’s nightmare elixir. After a moment of shock he wailed “OWWWWW!” and let out a few crocodile tears, before calming down with a quieter whimper.
“Wow champ, you did great! Ice cream on me bud, and those Batman band-aids look super cool. Let’s get your shoes back on and head out,” he said quickly, hoping that bringing the ice cream back up would quell Grant’s tears.
“But..but what about your shot Daddy? I want you to…sniff…be healthy too,” whimpered Grant, looking from his father to his arms, like they’d never be good again.
“I…uh…I mean you already got yours so…” he looked to the nurse, who was staring at him holding his flu shot with a look of bewildered disappointment on her face. “Well, I guess…I mean buddy I’m already pretty healthy…” He looked at the nurse for reprieve. She offered none.
“You already paid the $20.”
He took a breath. As a notorious cheapass, if there was one thing he hated more than needles, it was wasting money.
“Alright, whatever, give me the shot.” I’m buying myself the biggest fucking ice cream cone they’ve got. .
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