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Back-to-school shots: 5 tips for supporting your needle-fearing child

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter Viva, who is all shotted up for the time being.

Going back to school means getting immunizations: flu shots, booster shots, etc. It’s the only way the CIA can get the nanobots into our bloodstream so they can program us to bow down to the World Bank. Thanks, Obummer. Odds are, your child isn’t too excited about getting these shots. Government mandated perforation is never a walk in the park, least of all for a sensitive little one.

When your child has been nervous all day, and the nurse busts out the scary stuff, and your child starts to panic, what to do? Do you stand, arms folded, in the corner of the examining room near the brochures about hand washing and close your eyes until it’s over? Do you help hold your child down like a mean orderly in a Ken Kesey novel? Do you marathon “Hellraiser” films until your child is accustomed to sight of novels?

There are no great options, but here are some of your best:

Set the scene

Don’t trick them into thinking there is no shot coming. If you’ve told them the sharpest thing they’ll see is a tongue depressor and then they are suddenly restrained and stabbed, you’re going to destroy their trust in you, the medical profession and humanity, before school can do it for you.

Tell them they may get a shot, what a shot entails, that everybody gets them and that it’s just a little pinch. Otherwise you’ll end up with an angry, paranoid child who moves to Montana and sends angry letters composed on a rusty typewriter to global CEOs. No one like to be tricked by The Man. And, in case you haven’t noticed, since the baby was born, you da man.

But not too much or too soon

Don’t tell your child the shot is coming weeks in advance, that just gives them more time to focus on their neurosis and it’ll make the tumbrel ride to the pediatric headman longer and more painful.

The day before, perhaps, let them know the appointment is coming, and that there MAY be a shot, depending on what the doctor wants. Explain or role play how it’s going to go down. Lay it all out like a cool casino robbery instead of like the dreary medical procedure it actually is. I believe it was Ghandi who said, “You have to be the cool casino robbery you want to see in this world.” Or maybe it was Peter Ghallagher. Somebody said it, though.

Stay cheerful

“What can I do? What can I do?” You can act like a man, Johnny Fontane! (Or a woman. Regardless, you can be brave.) Your nervousness and blubbering and shouting is only raising the temperature of the room.

“Look at me. It only takes a second. It’s almost over.” That’s the stuff you should say. And practice your poker face in the mirror, or wear those holographic sunglasses they have in Texas Hold ‘Em competitions.

You’re supposed to be the wise, calm one in the room. (Well, you and the medical professional.) So keep it together and radiate the peace of a Bodhisattva dripping honey from their fingertips to the deepest reaches of hell. Or, at least don’t freak out.

Distract them

Just before the needle strikes, which one second later they will admit was no big deal but right now they think is akin to having their eyelids pinned back to be force fed images of “the old ultraviolence,” try to take their mind off of the shot. This will largely prevent them from twitching or writhing or suddenly unlocking their telekinetic potential to send everyone flying into the tile wall and unlocking a portal to a chilling alternate dimension.

You see why these tips are important?

Ask them to count backwards from ten, or forwards to ten, or to look you in the eye. Tell them you and your spouse are considering a divorce but you’ll always love them just the same. Anything to take their mind off the needle. (But be sure to say, “JK! LOL!” afterwards if you use that last one.)

Pay them off

This one won’t help you THIS time, but it might help you NEXT time. We’re all voracious capitalists in this country–tell your child they’ll get a treat or prize after the shot, then give it to them. On the way from her shot to the ice cream store or the toy store or the beach or wherever we brought Viva this week, she started to giggle almost maniacally.

“Why are you giggling?” I asked.

“I’m thinking about all the shots I’ll get in my life–and all the treats I’ll get.”

You see? Next time she gets a shot, she’ll be so excited about the loot she won’t cry. As far as what to do when she wonders why the universe doesn’t give her a prize every other time bad things happen to good people–well, that’s a hard truth she’ll have to learn on her own.

At least she probably won’t get the flu this year.

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