Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Be Careful What You Wish For

This appeared in the M.A.G. (Muse Apprentice Guild).

N* sat quietly in his car seat as we drove to the doctor.

“You are a big boy now N*. You are not going to cry, right?”

“No, mama.”

I craned my neck to look in the rear-view mirror. He had a forlorn look on his face as he gazed out the window.

“We’re getting the flu shot so you don’t fall sick, sweetie pie. You don’t want to fall sick when the snow comes, do you?” I asked for what must have been the hundredth time over the past two days, presenting big-person logic to a three year old.

The nurse called his name. “Follow me please.”

N* followed her into Room 15, ahead of me, facing straight ahead. He walked up to a chair, sat in it, and started pulling his sleeve up.

“What are you doing sweetheart?”

“She is giving me a shot, right?” he said, gesturing at the nurse.

I nodded, swallowing hard.

The nurse looked at me, her gaze questioning, slightly surprised. “Aren’t you going to hold him?”

I shook my head.

She turned her gaze to N*. I couldn’t see her face from where I was, but I imagined the surprise banished by skepticism.

She busied herself, carefully placing the syringe, a cotton swab, a colorful Big Bird band-aid, and as assortment of stickers on a paper plate.

“You’re a big boy, aren’t you? Do you want a sticker when we are done?” she asked, her voice bright.

He nodded, eyes shining.

The needle pierced my baby’s skin. His face crumpled, then quickly readjusted itself. He slid off the chair and ran to me.

“Mama, was I a big boy?”

My eyes rained tears as we wrapped each other in a hug.


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