Sometimes as a parent, you have to be the bad guy to do what’s right for your kid. Last week I had one of those days. A true teaching moment for me and, what seemed to be, a traumatic moment that Luke will burrow into his elephant-like memory forever.
Luke is an allergy sufferer and I made an appointment for us to meet with an allergist for the first time. The doctor was a lovely lady who spoke very nicely to Luke and explained to me that in order to determine his specific allergies he would need a patch test. For an adult, it feels like nothing more than having a plastic bristle pressed against the skin. But to Luke, just thinking about it sent him into a tantrum.
I alternated between speaking gently and speaking firmly as I tried to convince him that the test would not hurt. I was stifling laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation and also had an urge to cry as I watched the panic in his eyes. Weird conflict of emotions, I know. I think the laughter was a protection mechanism implanted in my brain so I didn’t have a meltdown on the floor next to my son. Alice in Wonderland-size tears spilled from his bright blue eyes as he screamed and pushed me away and backed into a corner.
That’s one of the hardest things about being a parent – not being able to save your kid from experiencing fear.
Finally, I had to hold his arms down so that the (very patient) nurse could quickly do the test. With each allergen that he had a reaction to, his back began to swell up in splotches. And they were itchy. Fifteen minutes of insisting that he not scratch passed slowly and heavily.
My kids think that bandaids take away pain, so the nurse brought him one along with a lollipop and spider-man stickers. All was well.
“That was exhausting,” I said to the nurse, “You don’t serve wine here, do you?”
I wasn’t kidding.
While the doctor and I discussed the test results, Madeleine figured out how to lower the doctor’s swivel stool all the way to the floor.
“Saaa-weeeee,” Madeleine giggled an apology and dance around the room.
What a good sport, that doctor. She didn’t look bothered at all as she gave me suggestions for helping Luke – who’s allergic to dust mites, cats, dogs, roaches, feathers, and pollen.
Somehow I promised them a trip to the toy store for Luke’s bravery and Madeleine’s sisterly support. After all, she did point her tiny finger at the nurse when Luke began to cry. “Don’t hurt my brudda,” she had shouted.
My homework – from now until I send him off to college – is to wash his sheets, blankets, and stuffed animals in hot water once a week, and to buy encasements for his mattress and pillow to smother the dust mites to death. Yuck. But if it will help my son (who’s been coughing, snarfling and sneezing for several months) then I’ll do whatever it takes.
Now whenever Luke sees a dust bunny under the couch he screams, “Dust mites!”
This is going to be interesting.