[expanding on a post I did for Blogging Baby because, well, I just had more to say on the subject.]
A couple days ago I took Bunny to the doctor for her preschool check up. She loves going to the doctor because she get to be the star of the show. All eyes are on her. She gets a kick out of telling the doctor what an otoscope is and showing him how to use a stethoscope. She counted all of his fingers carefully (like I taught her to do, "touch and count"), and he was pleased. She named colors and shapes. She drew him a happy face and told him it was her. She stood on one foot like a flamingo.
"Great, Bunny!" said Dr. K., "Now it's time for your shots." Bunny, of course, got all excited at the prospect of getting even more attention showered upon her. "I play shots at home with my doctor kit, Dr. K.!"
I cringed. She had no idea what was coming. Play shots are not like real ones. We play doctor all the time. She holds up the toy shot and pretends to give me a shot, "Psssshhhhttt." Usually, I don't react much, and then I say, "Thanks for the shot, Dr. Bunny."
I suddenly realized that I hadn't adequately prepared her. I should have fake-cried during our play and let her make me feel better. Let her give me a bandage. Let her kiss my pretend boo-boo, and showed her how shots hurt for a minute, but then kisses make it better.
What Bunny doesn't really understand yet is that she was a NICU baby for the first 4 days of her life. I have watched her being poked and prodded more times than I care to count. I have stood by as doctors cut her tiny toes and squeezed them to draw blood. If there was anything I could do to make the poking and proding stop, I would do it. But I didn't this time.
I felt like the most terrible mother in the world.I had to hold Bun tightly on my lap while the nurse administered the first shot. Bunny didn't cry at first, but then 3.6 seconds later she was shrieking inconsolably. The look on her face was nothing short of "how could you let someone hurt me like this, mamma?" It was puzzlement and shock and worry and pain all at the same time. I had to hold her even tighter for the second and third shots, and she didn't calm down for 10 full minutes. Not even with the promise of ice cream. She stopped crying while we walked to the car, but once we were in the car and she could see her band-aid, she would start crying all over again.
Bunny doesn't like band-aids. Never used them as stickers or anything like that. When she has an owie she doesn't want anyone to talk about it or look at it. She doesn't want us fawning all over her to make her feel better. She dreads baths when she has a cut because she literally and figuratively doesn't want to be so naked and exposed.
She had preschool later that day so I dropped her off telling a teacher about her ordeal and just to keep an eye on her. When I picked her up, she was her normal self. The shots had been forgotten. We made it through the rest of the day without any more shot-talk. Until...bathtime. Bunny was upset as she got into the bath. She keep glancing at her Snoopy bandage on her arm. She was trying hard not to get it wet. Wallie was also very interested in the Snoopy bandage, and, in a moment when Bunny was not paying attention to it, Wallie reached over, and ripped it clean off. Ffffffttttt.
I looked at Bunny. Then Wallie. Wallie was turning the band-aid over and over in her hands. Bunny looked at her arm, saw that there wasn't any trace of her shots, and plucked the soggy band-aid away from Wallie. She looked up at me and said, "Here mamma. Can you frow this away?" Splashing resumed and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. She's fine now, but I don't think she's enamored with going to the doctor anymore.