Last weekend both the kids had appointments for flu shots.
I was not worried about C (my nine-year-old son) at all. From the time he was three years old, I have been very upfront with him about the need for shots and how making a fuss would only make it more uncomfortable for him. I really had not expected the message to go over so well so quickly, and was heart broken that this little three year-old had let go of my hand, had walked up to the chair, lifted his sleeve and presented his arm to a skeptical nurse. The only one that cried that day was me.
With D, my daughter, who's now three herself, it's a completely different story. When we returned to the US from India two years ago she went through a spate of tests that involved drawing blood. The repeated visits at that age (she was barely one) and having needles stuck in her arm each time cemented a dreadful connection in her mind - a visit to the doctor meant injections. That association is starting to fray a bit, but we're nowhere close to me talking to her about not fussing for shots.
When our turn came at the doctor's office, C raised his hand when the nurse asked who was going first. He went through the drill with minimal talking. Then it was D's turn. Fully expecting her to bawl, C stood at the door and covered his ears. I scooped D in my arms and sat down on the chair with her on my lap. D, who had been watching C get his shot eyed the syringe warily. As the nurse lifted D's sleeve, inspiration struck C. He called D, told her to look at him and proceeded to dance a crazy little jig. She turned to me and giggled with an expression that said, "Look mom, C is being silly again." By the time she felt the sharp prick of the needle, she was too engrossed in her brother's antics to spare more than a glance at her arm. The colorful kiddie band-aid had already made an appearance.
As far as D is concerned, C is a major source of fun - he's great for horse rides, to watch movies with, to make puzzles with, to bounce on the bed with, to play tag with, to raid the freezer for ice cream with, to read books with, to tussle with. I hope it's not long before she wraps her mind around all the tiny ways in which he makes her life a little less hurtful.