A Different Kind of Chicken Pox Party

Flu Shot Day! Yesterday I had somehow managed to finagle 3 appointments in the same day from our pediatrician. Small detail/complication in that they weren’t at the same time. On purpose. Round One saw Otto go in for his. Being under the age of 2, he got the injection along with a few others that needed doing. Then I dragged him back home to wait for the girls to return from school. I swiftly handed him off to our babysitter, pulled the girls off the bus and headed back to the doctor’s office for Round two. Why not all at once? Because I just can’t handle pulling Otto off counter tops while wrestling Zoe into shot position and at the same time keep Eva out of the M&M jar on the desk. I simply can’t. Call me weak. I don’t mind. But what I’m not weak about is how important the flu shot/spray is. Every year we lose perfectly healthy people to influenza. It’s not a joke. Influenza is deadly and the flu shot works.

Anyway, on the way to the office the girls were debating whether to get the FluMist nasal spray or the shot. Since they are over the age of 2 and otherwise healthy, both were an option. I left the choice entirely up to them. For the mist, there are pluses (no shot) and minuses (small risk of a mild viral illness). Hilariously they went back and forth, finally boasting that they were both in for the shot. “Well, it doesn’t really hurt me because I’m very strong,” claimed Eva, flexing an arm that is about as big around as a pretzel stick.

But then Mommy remembered something. The girls hadn’t had their kindergarten shots yet. As in the varicella, DaPT and MMR boosters. Now most people get these shots in the run up to kindergarten. My two aren’t in kindergarten yet. However they are both old enough to be boostered. (Is that a word?) And you know how I like to make sure we are an immune bunch. Not to mention the very real possibility that life could get even crazier and I would forget to take them back in. I mean, seriously, someone asked me the other day how old I am and I just stared back, completely blank. Dealing with 3 small kids, a child-like husband, a house and a job is hard enough. Don’t ask me to remember things like my first name or favorite color. Let alone if I remembered to make an appointment for a varicella booster! Our pediatrician knows us well enough to know that he has to act when he sees us.

Anyhoo, all this means we rolled into the pediatrician’s office and I casually enquired, “So, am I crazy or do they also need their 4 to 6 year jabs?” He flipped through the charts and nodded, silently pulling out vial after vial, recording lot numbers and vaccine names. The flu shot conversation fell right off the table and I informed both that they would only get the FluMist.

In addition to 3 more shots.

The girls looked me with horror and I began apologizing profusely, telling them how terrible chicken pox and measles are and promising that I too would get my flu shot the next day. (Reasonably asthmatic, I don’t have the nose spray option.) “You wouldn’t want to be horribly sick with terrible itchy spots do you?” I pleaded. I can’t blame them for their reactions, as usually I do like to prepare them instead of just springing surprise shots on them. But we were here and the shots needed doing. They remained unimpressed and openly resistant until their pediatrician interrupted me. “Don’t worry. We can just take care of Mommy right now.” They stared at him as he pulled another vial out of the fridge and began writing yet another note. Which seemed to do the trick. Eva pulled her leggings down and marched forward, a half-smile on her face.

“You’ll get yours next, Mommy, but you won’t get a chocolate,” Eva informed me as she crawled onto my lap for her jab-jab-jab-spray. There were some tears, for sure, but a sterile urine collection tube full of M&Ms was quickly shoved into her hands and it was Zoe’s legs and nostrils next. Sweaty and red-faced, the two of them then sat together, shoving chocolate into their mouths with giant grins on their faces. “Your turn!” they sang, as I pulled up my sleeve. How very kind of them, so pleased to throw their mother to the wolves…

I didn’t cry. I also wasn’t offered a piece of chocolate. But I am protected against this year’s projected strains of influenza. As are my kids. Husband was injected two weeks ago. And on top of that we had a bit of a party at the pediatrician’s office. Chocolates were flying, the varicella boosters were flowing. In other words, a chicken pox party without the risk of pneumonia, encephalitis, group A strep sepsis or death.  On top of that we got protection against influenza and no more shots for the girls until age 9 (HPV). Now how’s that for a good time?