I just got my flu shot, doing what little I can to stem the flow of germs from preschool to my house, not to mention from the grocery store, Target, Costco, and the Starbucks down the street. I haven’t had the flu since I started getting the shot, back in college, after a particularly brutal flu season when I had it again and again. I don’t miss it. Likewise, I’ve vaccinated my kids against it, because the only thing worse than being really sick is having a really sick child.
Our pediatrician has a couple of flu shot clinics each year, where he opens his doors all day for his patients to stream in and get their shot, and sticker reward, in assembly-line fashion. Last year String Bean and I went to one of the clinics. I spent the whole morning giving her a pep talk about it, that the shot would be small, quick, and very mild, and that the sticker would be shiny, new, and quite beautiful.
When we arrived at the pediatrician’s office, she was whisked from the shot line into the FluMist line, because she’d had the shot before, and who wouldn’t prefer to sniff a little spray over having a shot? Guess who. String Bean has long had an obsession with saline nasal spray, so getting the FluMist vaccine was easy for her. He sprayed, she sniffed, no big deal. Until we were back in the car, Pocahontas sicker in hand, headed home, when String Bean suddenly piped up from the back seat: “Mom, I forgot to get my shot!” I apologized for the confusion, and explained that she didn’t need a shot after all. The spray up her nose had done the trick, and we were all done. She immediately started to cry, “Turn around! Go back! I want my shot!” Now, kids love to throw curve balls like this at you. Instead of feeling thrilled at her shot-reprieve, she was feeling deprived of the pricking sensation, the sore arm, all that I had promised her. I had to stifle my laughter as I apologized, profusely, for preparing her so adequately for something that, in the end, didn’t even happen. This year, I’ll try to be better prepared for either outcome.