Last year, I made the somewhat catastrophic mistake of telling my three kids ahead of time that I'd scheduled appointments for them to get flu shots. The ensuing drama would have put Meryl Streep out of business. My girls didn't sleep. They couldn't eat. Oh, the humanity! Honestly, I thought I was doing the right thing by giving them the heads up about the vaccines. But I realized with extra time to worry, I was only torturing them . . . and myself. So this year, I took a completely different approach to flu season. Instead of warning the kiddos about their appointments, I sprung the news on them when we were already in the car en route to the doctor's office. After how it turned out, I can't help but pat myself on the back for my brilliant parenting move.
Rather than coaching my kids through days of emotional breakdowns leading up to the shots, I'd gotten it all over with in one fell swoop.
I'd made the appointments to get the kids' flu shots days earlier when they were at school. I spent the next few days feeling slightly guilty that my children had no idea the dreaded rendezvous with needles were on my planner. On the afternoon of the appointments, I picked them up from school like always, but we didn't go home. It wasn't until we started heading in the completely opposite direction that they rightly guessed something was up. "Where are we going?" my oldest daughter asked in a tone that suggested she was onto me.
I didn't want to tell them the truth anymore than they wanted to hear it. "We are getting flu shots today," I announced. Predictably, their little worlds imploded. Their protestations were loud and immediate. My little one wailed as if I'd just informed her we were removing her legs. The car reverberated with screams. Were some of them coming from me?
A few moments later, we pulled into the pediatrician's parking lot. After successfully prying the kids from the car, we proceeded to light up the office with our traveling band of bawling and shrieking. It didn't cease until the shots were over 10 lo-o-o-o-ng minutes later. And sure, mama needed a drink after that half hour from hell. But this year's flu shot spectacle had been mercifully shorter than last year's. Rather than coaching my kids through days of emotional breakdowns leading up to the shots, I'd gotten it all over with in one fell swoop. Hallelujah!
Of course, some people may think it's mean to trick your kids into getting their shots by essentially trapping them in a moving vehicle before telling them where you're really going. But I say it was a smart parenting gamble that paid off. I spared all of us from unnecessary pain and suffering. The proof is in the pudding. Because later, my 10-year-old asked if I would please not surprise her next year on the way to getting her flu shot. "Do you really want to have to worry about it for days?" I asked her. She thought about that for a moment and then said, "No. You're right. I don't want to know."