“Eh, where are we going?”
“I’ll tell you in a minute.”
“I wanna go HOME!”
“We just need to… do something. Then we’ll go home. I’ll explain in a minute, be nice.”
The last thing I need is Mark screaming in the back seat of the car. I want to go home too. I’m sick again and I’m tired… again. It’s Friday, I want to be home as well, especially considering I still have to do a million of things before relaxing, finally—washing Mark’s bedding that we bring back from daycare every week, cleaning his lunch box, making dinner, giving him his bath and probably other stuff I’m forgetting right now.
“Come on, get out. I’ll explain.”
Mark steps out and blinks to adjust to the darkness—or maybe he just didn’t nap today.
He looks around and smiles.
We haven’t even been to this walk-in clinic with him. Gee. This kid has seen too many doctors this past year.
I thought getting the flu shot was going to be easy. By mid-October, the theme was Halloween monsters/flu shots soon available in any pharmacy near you. Walmart offered it, Loblaws, Shoppers, Rexall… there were at least six locations where we could get the shot between home and daycare.
When we showed up at Shoppers Drug Mart one evening, we were informed there was a one-hour wait and that kids under five must go to a doctor’s office or a walk-in clinic. Oh. I didn’t know that.
The chances to get a timely appointment with Mark’s doctor were slim, plus the office is across town and closes early. So we had to find a walk-in clinic that didn’t close at 5 p.m., otherwise we would have to take the half-day off to pick up Mark early.
We found one. Feng double checked: yes, kids could get the shot, yes, they were open until 10 p.m. that evening.
“MOMMY, COME SIT! We watch movie. Daddy, sit!”
“Mark… quiet voice, please. We’ll give you the tablet in a second. We just need to register first, alright?”
The waiting-room was full. Feng and I looked at each other and shrugged. The self-service check-in machine didn’t work, and even after entering the long OHIP card number manually, we were sent to reception, where the one and only receptionist was already busy helping other patient the self-service machine didn’t feel like registering.
“How long is the wait?”
“Forty-five minutes. Oh… just the flu shot? You don’t need to see a doctor, right? Probably less than that, then.”
Mark and Feng sat at one end of the waiting room, I stood then eventually found a seat as well.
More people arrived. I read a few chapters on my Kindle while Mark commented Up playing on the tablet.
Forty minutes later, he started to get a bit antsy.
“Mommy… I need to go pee.”
Quick scan around the waiting room. Nope, no bathroom. I thought of running inside the mall but I wasn’t sure where the bathroom was, nor how long Mark could hold it.
I walked up to the reception.
“Mommy, I need to PEE!”
“I’ll be with you in a bit.”
“I’m really sorry, but is there a bathroom somewhere?”
By the time we were allowed in, the entire waiting room had understood that Mark really had to pee. Still, he waited until we found the bathroom, no small feat for a three-year-old who is still working on mastering the fine art of peeing in the toilet.
“You can just go wait in the exam room. I’ll be with you in a second.”
By then, we had been waiting for over an hour. Mark was getting cranky—and so was I. I sacrificed my phone and let him browse my blog. He likes it—well, mostly he likes stumbling upon pictures of “MARK! THIS IS MARK!”
Thirty minutes later, I finally gave Mark the pep talk. I grabbed a pen and did my best PG rendition of the Pulp Fiction overdose scene, except that instead of John Travolta stabbing an adrenaline shot into Uma Thurman’s heart, I used the pen to give Mark a fake shot in the arm.
“Okay. It’s going to hurt. A little bit. And then it will be over, very quick.”
“Noooo…. no hurt!”
“Well… this time, yes.”
I always tell Mark that “it doesn’t hurt” when getting a haircut or cutting nail. I wasn’t going to lie about the shot.
I volunteered to go first. Mark held my hand. I really don’t mind needles.
“See?” I said as Mark stared at the needle piercing the skin. “It hurts a little bit… one, two, three… finish! Your turn!”
“Yes. I did it, you do it.”
He didn’t fight.
I held his hand. Needle going in, no problem. He counted to three. The vaccine being pushed into his body was too much. He started crying.
“I know. But it’s finished now!”
The tears didn’t last long. And I don’t blame him, it did hurt.
This was the first time we were getting the flu shot. I strongly believe in vaccination and herd immunity, but I do pause to consider “optional” vaccinations, such as the flu. This year, I don’t want to take a chance.
I hope I made the right decision.