The Young and the Elderly
The Princess’s eyes filled with tears. “But I don’t want any shots, Mommy.”
“I know, Sweetie, but you have to get them.”
“It’s gonna hurt, Mommy.”
“Yes, it is, but you need your shots before you go to school.”
She leaned over on my lap. The Pirate smiled a big grin.
“I don’t need any shots, Sister.”
“Mommy, D. is teasing me!”
“D. don’t tease your sister. Besides, you’ll need shots next year.”
“Yes, Ma’am. But I don’t need them today, right?”
“No, not today.”
The nurse came into the room with four needles in her hands. “Okay, Mom. I need you to sign next to each ‘x,’ saying that you agree to the vaccinations.” I pulled out my pen and began signing. The Princess hugged my legs tightly.
“You’ll be fine. I’ll be right here next to you. Okay?”
“Put her on the table, Mom,” the nurse said, “and we’ll get started.” I held M.’s hands tightly and leaned in close to her face to shield her from the sight of what was about to happen. Another nurse came in and stood on the left side of the Princess, while the other nurse stood on the right side, each brandishing two needles apiece. I kissed M. on the forehead, and I leaned in closer.
Now, I believe in vaccinations, but I do NOT believe in sticking a child four times. I still can’t fathom why the nurses couldn’t better coordinate their needle pushing, but needless to say, on four different mini moments, they stuck my baby in the thighs. The Princess’ face turned red, and she let out a wail. Big, salty tears poured from her eyes as she tried to get up from the table.
“Wait, Baby. Let them get the band-aids on, okay?” No words. Just tears and a shaky head nod of acquiescence.
We arrived home a few hours later. We had a mountain of errands to run and lunch to eat at a restaurant, a reward for not acting like maniacs in the stores.
We all landed face first on beds, and I decided that we should sleep for a couple of hours. When I started to regain consciousness, I could hear that the girls were in their room playing. No big deal, I thought, and I settled in for a few more minutes.
All of a sudden, I hear a loud noise followed by ecstatic laughter. I jumped from the bed, knowing that utter chaos had ensued. Feeling around the floor for my glasses (I’d fallen asleep with them on), I start screaming. “What is going on in there?”
Silence. Of course. Then the not-so-quiet whispers.
“Hurry up,” I can hear one say.
“I am,” from the other.
“She’s coming!” one squeals as I bound barefoot and sleepy toward their room.
Books, toys, clothes, and everything else that lives in a kids’ room and closet were scattered all over the beds and floor. At that moment, I was kicking myself. Why do I keep buying all this crap for them? I’m the one who ends up having to deal with it?
“Who did this?” I scream, knowing that this pair of misfits collaborated on this effort.
They both shout the others’ names and point to snitch unashamedly.
“Don’t tell stories,” I yell. “I know you both were in here trashing this room!”
“How you know that, Mommy?” The Pirate questions with hands on hips.
“Don’t ask me questions!” I fuss, knowing how stupid I sounded. “Just clean this mess up.”
“But, Mommy?” says the Princess, “I can’t clean up right now.”
“M.,” in my sternest mommy voice, “you are going to clean up right now, or I’m going to put everything in the trash!”
“But I just can’t.”
“Because my legs are still broken from the shots.”
“I need a wheelchair, Mommy. So I just can’t clean up my room. My legs are broken.”
The Pirate stands back watching this unfold with the biggest smile on her face. I can tell that she’s in awe of the pure kindergarten genius standing in her midst. I can tell that she can’t wait to use this excuse next year when she gets her shots. I can tell that if I don’t nip this thing in the bud right now, I’m it for it later.
“M., get your behind up right now. Go get the trash can and the broom.” I stand close enough to her to ensure that she has to crane her neck all the way back to see my face (you know, using my height over her as intimidation).
“Well, I guess I can do that, but it’s really going to hurt.”
I step back and allow her to pass. She walks dramatically slow, limping like she’s just gotten two hips replaced this morning. When she returns with the broom, again milking it like a pro, she says, “maybe if I had a cane it wouldn’t hurt so much.”
Jesus, keep me near the cross!