Tonight’s family outing was a group flu shot session! We know how to party. Flu shot season is one of those rare times of year I feel like a real adult. Yes, my wife scheduled the appointment and told me about it just a day or so in advance, but by golly do I feel super grown up right now.
Not because taking care of oneself is a mark of adulthood, but because in front of the children I had to put on the “needles aren’t just sharpened metal pipes being thrust into your flesh all willy nilly” face. Yes, flu shot night was all about showing the oldest that fear can be overcome.
I have had a ton of needles jabbed into me. A long time ago I was very sick and needed intravenous drugs all the time. All. The. Time. So many drugs were needed for treatment that I had a medical device installed into my chest to make things a little more simple for nurses and to prevent vein collapse. It was easier to make me a cyborg than it was to just keep putting needles in my arm.
One would think that needles lose a bit of their intimidation factor. Like at some point I would level up and needles would just be like battling level one rats twelve hours into the campaign. Nope. Needles freak me the fudge out. Most days I am pretty good at not getting stabbed and I like it that way. Not on flu shot night though.
On flu shot night the goal is to show the kiddo he won’t be hurt. Of course needles don’t hurt and the whole thing lasts the blink of an eye, I know this and can reconcile it, but I see a needle and think, “oh my that’s a serial killer’so tool”. Can’t let the kid know that though. The kid has to be reassured that it goes fast and easy and there’s nothing to fear.
Fear isn’t rational though. There is fear and fear is good even if it makes no sense. We can’t let fear win the day though, that’s the real goal. Showing the kid that he will not be hurt by the shot means that as he gets his shot he is less likely to recoil or squirm causing real damage. Try getting him to sit down for shots after an event like that! Yeesh.
Of course when the oldest got his shot he screamed and cried and learned nothing from seeing the rest of the family get shots, but he didn’t flail around. He sat in his mother’s lap trying to collapse in on himself like a dying star to avoid the shot, but he did not flail. So he did not conquer fear this night, but he got over the whole thing quickly enough.
One day he’ll move from shreiks to little disappointed sighs, like “ugh, this again”, when seeing needles. Exposure helps, but I hope that parental “brave face” helps too. It has to help more than the alternative; parental “whimper on the floor in the fetal position” face. Tonight I learned that in fatherhood, there’s a right time and place for whimpering and the doctor’s office is not it. Probably.