One of the worst things your baby can go through is vaccinations. Well, that and being hungry, tired, wet, not allowed to play with light sockets or cleaning supplies or generally being told "no" to anything. To a baby, all of this = unfair.
But there's no getting around the shots, and there's no explaining that can be done because you simply can't have meaningful dialogue between the two of you.
You : "Okay, so here's the deal. You're going to get a few shots. They're going to hurt, but it's a preventative measure so you don't catch a fatal illness. I'm very sorry, but it's for your own good. You know I love you and would never want to hurt you, right?"
Baby : *poops*
The hospital tries to make the environment as friendly and inviting as possible, what with colorful exteriors and an interior jungle animal theme that makes you question whether you're going to visit a trained pediatrician or some kind of witch doctor with a bone through his nose. This is problematic for several reasons.
First, I don't want this place appearing as though it has been constructed by giant babies. I've seen what my own does to anything taller than a cat (meaning knock it over and step on it for good measure, to make sure it's good and busted). It just makes me think the building is held together with diapers and drool, neither of which I would imagine would be up to code.
Secondly, it's deceiving. A child is going into a building that screams "fun!" only to leave full of painful holes and lighter on blood than when he or she arrived. It's the child equivalent to a 40 year-old man entering a gentleman's club - expecting whatever delights occur in such establishments - and instead finding a proctologist waiting, gloved hand at the ready. Another example would be like if the winning kids from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" arrived and instead of a sugary delicious magic wonderland factory it was a conference room where they're given a PowerPoint presentation on the dangers of gingivitis. Then an oopa looma punches them in the face.
It's no wonder children are so suspicious.
If you're going to lie, at least keep the lie going. Don't tell the parent, "Oh, 12-month checkup huh? That's the worst." We don't want to hear that. Instead, tell us a clown might be handing us $50, there will be mascot racing and/or a free photo opportunity with Mr. T. I want my brain to be focusing on trying to determine the pros and cons of Mr. T. "pitying me" instead of the series of shots soon to be administered to my innocent, unsuspecting child. Then, at the last minute punch me in the stomach and give my baby the shots so I can later explain that I had no part in this and I was similarly duped and injured.
As you're waiting for the shots, you find yourself attempting to circumvent the system, doing anything to prevent the inevitable. For example, I found myself trying to convince the (evil) nurses to give ME the shots instead.
"I'm sure being around such a fit physical specimen every day will rub off on her," I reasoned.
"Oh, is her mother an athlete?" one of them asked.
"I meant me."
Their laughing clearly indicated they agreed with me but due to poor training did not proceed with my recommendation, no matter how many times I shouted "Stat!" (Nurses are supposed to do what you tell them if you follow it with "Stat!").
Other odd thoughts start to cross your mind as well, like what if you shouted "hey look!" at the last moment, pointing over the nurses' heads and swiftly switching your child for a decoy baby. Not a real baby, mind you (though you may consider renting a replacement).
The worst part about it is that you're not just a witness to the procedure, but also a contributor. Due to some sick joke the she-devils actually ask you to hold down your baby's arms, presumably so your hands have something to do and your first reaction isn't to instantly tackle them both the moment they ram their harpoons through your baby's legs.
I know these women are likely very nice people ? they probably recycle, pay their bills on time and volunteer at zoos ? but for the five minutes they are in the room giving my daughter shots they become demons from the ancient world. I picture them living in an evil mountain lair where their music of choice is babies screaming (aka the Jonas Brothers), surrounded by a pit of vipers discussing the merits of the Holocaust.
"I made a baby scream for 20 minutes!" one boasts while sipping on infant tears.
"Oh yeah, well half of mine started lunging for their parents and crying the moment I stepped in the door!"
Then they would laugh like witches while poking a wagon of hungry kittens with a stick.
Then it happens. For a split-second you think, "Hey, this is going to be A-OK." But you quickly realize this is the calm before the storm. The pause you hear (or, rather, don't hear) is the utter shock/betrayal your baby is feeling at this painful injustice.
"It wasn't me, it was THEM!" I shout over the screams, pointing so she it was unmistakable who "them" was.
"Bad ladies!" I continue for dramatic emphasis. "Bad, mean ladies!"
This never works. The blame has been cast on everyone in the room. After they removed the spears they covered the wounds with Neon Band-Aids. My baby's eyes clearly communicated the message: "Neon Band-Aids? That's what you give me after all this trauma? What do you give gunshot victims? A sucker?"
In the end, she got four shots on her birthday. That'll teach her what we do to babies that grow up. Baby, please stay tiny forever. I promise there won't be any more shots.
Kelly Van De Walle is a creative writer for The Integer Group as well as communication consultant for Briscoe 14 (www.briscoe14.com) strategic communications group. He can be contacted at email@example.com or via Chinese monkey robot.