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Doctor, Doctor, Whatcha Doin' With That Shot There?

Bonus points to all you parents who
recognized that title as a line from a Justin Roberts song –

We went to the doctor for the first time in Texas yesterday –
Maddie for her 3-year visit, and Cora for her 1-year. The
after-shocks of this visit will, I believe, be reverberating for
quite some time.

Maddie’s been very prepared for the doctor trip –
we’ve talked about it all week. She knew she needed to go for
a well visit, that there would be weighing and measuring and poking
and prodding, and possibly a shot. I wasn’t sure if a shot
was on the menu, since there are no shots at the 3-year visit in
New York, but I know policies vary by state so didn’t want to
rule it out.

And boy am I glad I left that door open.

Maddie was excited to go to the doctor
since the doctor plays videos in the waiting room, and she watched
Toy Story contentedly for ten minutes before heading in.
When she found out she could keep her clothes on for the weigh-in
she was ecstatic, and you could see her gaining confidence by the
second. Our new doctor’s office has a little “checking
station” in the middle of the office where the kids are
weighed and measured and given eye tests and such, so a naked Cora
and a jubilantly clothed Maddie hit the station for their vital
stats. Cora was over with quickly and enjoyed running naked up and
down the halls, calling out some version of Marco Polo, while
Maddie had her blood pressure and eyes checked.

This was the first time for Maddie’s vision test and I could
feel the tension in her body, the worry that she’d get the
answers wrong. There was one unfamiliar sign – an outline of
a car – that she simply couldn’t describe, and I could
feel the frustration in her body. Otherwise, she breezed through
the initial intake exam.

Then we headed to our private room, and all bets were off. I could
see Maddie’s eyes – a sort of “Hey, I know this
kind of room and remember I don’t like it” look –
and realized there might be trouble. “Mommy?” she asked
quietly. “Yes, baby?” “Did you find out if I need
a shot?” “Well, I asked honey, and yes, you do need a
shot.” Maddie thought quietly.

“I don’t think I need a shot, Mommy. I feel
fine.” “Yes, honey, but the shot is to keep you

“Well,” she said slowly, “Let’s just go
outside instead. Daddy said it’s important for me to play
outside a lot. If I go play outside and take a nap and eat
something I’ll stay healthy! Let’s do that

Meanwhile, Naked Cora had thoroughly charmed the nurses and the
doctor and was toddling, crawling, and rolling impishly all over
the office. Cora coos. She beams. She chortles. She picks up both
feet and eats them. In one particularly memorable move, she rolled
onto her back, then her tummy, then crawled mischeviously forward
in some sort of weird “Like A Virgin” take-off.
Everyone smiled and beamed, not noticing Maddie’s increasing

“Mommy?” “Yes, honey?” “I think Cora
should have her shot first.” Pictures of a wide-eyed Maddie
stampeding after seeing her sister stabbed repeatedly with a needle
flash through my head, and I hedge. “I’m not sure
that’s best.” “Yes, yes it is,” Maddie said
definitively. “I’m sure it’s best.”

You can imagine what happened – Maddie watched while Cora got
her shots, and began screaming even before Cora had finished
drawing in air to cry. Maddie scrambled down out of my arms, ran to
the furthest corner of the office, and said over and over,
“Mommy, take me home now, please! Mommy, take me out of the
doctor’s office, please! Please Mommy, take me out!”

In the end we had to hold her down, though to her credit she
didn’t fight us at all once she realized it was going to
happen. Afterwards I told Maddie I thought she was very brave.
“How was I brave?” she asked in disbelief, tears
dripping down her face. “Because you were very scared and
frightened, and you were still obedient. You did something, even
though you feared it. You didn’t kick or hit or try to get
away, and that takes lots of courage. Sometimes being brave is
being afraid and doing something anyway.” I saw the message
sink in and knew, when I heard her repeat that to Gamma later, that
she’ll remember that for a while. A trip to the ice-cream
parlor with Daddy later, and Maddie is now completely back to

Cora’s story hasn’t ended so well, unfortunately. While
she had a great visit, she’s feeling the effects of the
immunizations, and I spent several hours last night holding and
rocking her until she fell into an exhausted, tearful sleep. Since
she got the chicken pox vaccine, I’m now on guard for the
next several weeks to see if she develops a mild case of it, which
would curtail our visit to friends with babies.

So we’re here, licking our wounds and recovering from our
first Texas visit. I expect everyone to be better by tomorrow,
though I’m not sure how easily I’ll get Maddie back
into the doctor’s office next year.

I’d better call ahead and find out what the movie will be


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