Roots and Wings

When he was a baby and he got his shots, he never knew what was coming.  As soon as the nurse was finished with the dirty deed, he would squawk for only a second before I was there to hold him, nurse him, comfort him.  And that’s all he needed.  Once again, all was right with the world.

When he was a little boy, he would forget from one visit to the next about the shots.  We wouldn’t tell him what was coming.  The doctor and I would discuss the shots in code language so he didn’t have time to dread the event.  When the nurse came into the room, he barely had time to get hysterical before it was all over.  A hug from mom and the promise of a milkshake at McDonalds would put the whole event out of his memory.  Until the next time.

But now he’s a big boy.  He knows what’s coming when we head to the doctor’s office, and he knows it’s not pleasant.  He tried to be brave.  But when the doctor informed him that there were two shots coming, not just one, that was the final straw. 

He tried to act nonchalant, but I saw him secretly wiping away tears.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t had so much time to
anticipate it.  Ten minutes
seemed like thirty as we sat and waited, a dark cloud hovering over the room.

"What does it feel like, Mom?  How much does it hurt?"  He must have asked those questions at least five times as he blinked back tears.

The mommy in me wanted to go to him and comfort him, to put my arms around him and tell him it would be alright.  But I knew that my sympathy would cause the floodgates to open.  I knew my big boy didn’t want to cry.  So I pretended not to notice.  I reassured him that it would only pinch for a second.  Then  I looked away, made small talk with his sisters, anything to help him save face in front of the nurses.

When they finally entered the room to administer the shots, he put his game face on.  He responded politely to their questions when he really wanted to scream and kick and run.  He held his breath and gritted his teeth as they counted down. 

Then it was over.

He smiled in relief.  He inspected his arms.  And in his cocky little boyish way, he tried to convince me it wasn’t so bad.  "It just felt like a little pinch." 

After he got dressed and we were leaving the office, he said, "The waiting was the worst part, Mom." 

One of life’s most repetitive lessons, is it not?

When I was a teenager, one of my friend’s moms told me that her job as a parent was to give her children roots and wings.  I didn’t really understand at the time what she was trying to tell me.  But I think I’m learning. 

I’ve spent the last eight years giving my little boy roots.  Now it’s time to start working on those wings.