We lived within walking distance of the Health Unit when I was a kid. This was an institutional white-ceramic-tile-everywhere-but-the-ceiling sort of place that always smelled of rubbing alcohol. This was the place for baby shots. Didn’t matter if you were a seven year-old kid, that’s what they called them. Baby shots. Maybe that term was supposed to lessen the fear of them. As an adult, it sounds innocuous, but a shot was a shot back then and I had a raging phobia of needles.
Blane says his mom used to take him to one certain doctor with a child-sized metal airplane in the waiting room. He’d start crying the minute he saw the thing, but he’d tell them, “Okay, put me in there.” He’d be smiling and crying at the same time while he sat in the airplane. (I’m laughing myself to tears at that visual)
Fast forward to present day. I’m working the county H1N1 clinic giving assembly line shots with a few other nurses. We all play our parts differently. Some of us smile and try to be sweet to the kids with a basket of candy in one hand and a needle in the other. That’s how I do it, although I know kids are just as smart as we are. I’ve been thinking about cutting the act and going with the “mean nurse” look. The happy face thing is a bit deceptive, and if I’m gonna be in some kid’s nightmares, I’d rather not be the smiling villain.
image from healthclub.info-ebazaar.com
It’s interesting being on the other side of this “baby shot” thing. Notably the different ways families handle the situation. Some parents haven’t told their kids what they are doing there. Those are the cheerful but skeptical ones. Like I said, kids aren’t stupid. We have our syringes concealed under a cloth and when the time is right, Ta-Da! So it is wise to choose the most needle-phobic kid to go first because once the cat is out of the bag, kids start scrambling, bargaining, or putting up a pretty damn good fight.
Most families do tell their kids what is about to happen. It’s fascinating, the children are consistent. Either the entire family is crying, or they are courageous and ready to get the thing over with.
Teenaged boys provide the comic relief. They laugh at and taunt each other, “You want me to hold your hand?” Oh, and giving a shot in a tattoo can be fun, like the wildcat I shot right between the eyes last night.
You know what shot behavior I like best of all? When it’s all over with, the part where I offer a kid some candy and they shove it back at me as if to say, “I don’t want your damn candy.”
If you live in Collin County, you can get your FREE H1N1 flu shot on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 4PM to 8PM and Saturdays from 9AM to 5PM until December 23rd, while supplies last. This is at the free clinic which has been temporarily converted to a flu clinic and is open to everyone (rich, poor, pretty, ugly…) in the county, click here for the location. (also, the more shots we give, the more grant money we receive to treat the poor, so come to us if you’re getting the shot… It will cost you nothing and I’ll hold your hand.)