Friday, November 18, 2011


Except for scholarly pursuits which I prefer to avoid and procrastinate, I am very good at meeting deadlines. I thrive on deadlines, actually, because I like to get whatever it is I am supposed to do done so fast-- I like to be first, in fact. That's why I usually take the whole family for flu vaccines at the end of August, right around the time our pediatrician's office gets a boat load of FluMist-- you know, the vaccine that kids huff?

This year, we were preparing for kindergarten and a baby at the end of August, and flu vaccines slipped my mind. I remembered in the hospital when I got a pertussis vaccine the day after Cooper was born. I was all set to get a flu shot, too, but the whooping cough shot hurt like a mother, and I could not handle the idea of another stiff arm at that exact sleep-deprived second. Fast forward to Cooper's well baby appointment the other day. Seeing the nurse come in with a tray full of needles jogged my memory, and she gave me a flu shot right there at my request. I went home an badgered Ben until he had his yearly physical and got his vaccine (and he totally asked for the FluMist, but his doctor's office was out of it-- Ben HATES shots), and I realized that H and J were still flu-vulnerable.

I called the pediatrician's office to make an appointment for Mist, and the receptionist told me that yesterday they were having a vaccine clinic, and I could just bring the kiddos by after Harry got home from school.

I told Ben about my plans over breakfast, and he raised an eyebrow. "I told you they're out of the mist," he said.

"At your clinic," I told him. "Not at the kids' clinic."

"Gee, I'd love to go with you and all three kids to test that theory, but I have to teach."

When Cooper and I were trolling Target later in the morning, I threw 2 Green Lantern guys in my cart along with some clearance pajama pants, patterned tights, graham crackers, and a couple of shirts that might disguise my fat donut-- you know, ESSENTIALS. I figured if Ben was right, I might need some bribe toys.

On the drive across town, the boys kept asking me if they were getting shots, but I assured them they just had to huff some live flu-- no biggie. It took us over half an hour to get to the doctors office because there was a state high school football game at the college stadium and throngs of people were crossing the street in random places like school-mascot-blanket-wearing zombies (I have never seen so many people in blankets), but H and J were in good spirits. Cooper was half awake in his carseat, spitting out his pacifier and then whining for me to reinsert it and wearing his new turkey hat.

The good news when we got to the office was that there were only 2 groups of people ahead of us, a mother/teenage son duo and a mother/toddler/preschooler trio. Bad news? Lots. The clinic was set up haphazardly in the second floor waiting room, so no privacy. There were 6 nurses on hand, but they all clustered around one patient at a time. The two kids in front of us were freaking the freak out at the top of their lungs. And, of course, Ben was right. THE CLINIC RAN OUT OF FLU MIST A MONTH AGO.

Jack sat on a chair picking his nose and looking scared.

Cooper ramped up the fussing, probably because his turkey hat is hot and he was zipped inside his fleece carseat bunting AND covered with a blanket.

Harry stood next to me chatting merrily. "Oh," he said, looking at the kids in front of us. "I hear a baby crying. Is our baby crying?" He peered into Cooper's seat. "Not really," he said. "I think Cooper just wants his pacifier. Oh! See that little girl over there?" He gestured toward the girl in front of us who was sitting on her mother's lap, her jeans pulled down to reveal her thigh for her vaccine. "She's crying. Oh! Mama! I think she's crying because she's getting a shot." He looked proud of himself for figuring out the mystery. Then he whipped his head around to look at the girl again. "She's getting a shot?" he asked. "She's getting a shot! Does that mean I'm getting a shot?"

Jack stopped mid-pick to stare at me, both of them waiting for an answer but pretty sure they already knew what I was going to say, tears accumulating in their accusing little eyes.

Cooper picked that second to spit his pacifier onto his blanketed chest and start to scream one of those silent-for-a-minute, red-faced screams.

Things did not, as you might imagine, improve when it was finally our turn.


  1. Oh NO!! And that was wonderfully written, by the way, like a book I wouldn't want to put down!

    Charlie gets the mist and Wes has to have the shot because one time when he was seven months old he had a respiratory problem and now he is forever marked as "prone to respiratory problems". It's hard to explain that to them. Charlie is very smug about it.

  2. Oh Dear! Eli got the shot last year because the pediatrician's office, cleeeeaar across town, is the only place with the mist and I am lazy. He's been talking about that damn shot for a year. We still haven't gone to get our flu shots this year because I haven't worked up enough of a patience reserve. Seriously, he freaked the fuck out when Syd had to get a blood draw. Like, had to be escorted from the room. Flu might be preferable.

  3. And I agree with Becca, this was awesomely written!

  4. i heart the part where it dawns on Harry what his fate in that clinic will be.

    Poor guys. I hate taking the kids in to get shots because of their little faces that stare at me when it happens.

    And, as the other two mentioned, this was very well written. :)

  5. our old doctor never had flu mist, so imagine my delight when we moved here and learned of its existence! Hooray, no shots! Thankfully Jack's birthday is September 20th, so we always get the flu mist at his perfectly timed well child check. unfortunately, our pediatrician doesn't do the parents, so I have to find someone to give me my shot this year once I'm out of the first trimester.

    oh yeah - and the other comments are right - fabulous writing!

  6. Ahhhhheeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiii. That's my scream of empathy for you. At least Cooper wasn't getting one, too. That would have sent you over the edge.

    I agree, edge-of-your-seat reading of this one! Well done.