It’s that time of year again. Time for school physicals. This year it was Evan’s turn, but nothing can compare to the time I had to take Matt for his 6th grade middle school physical.
I knew that he had to get at least one shot, and since he suffers from anxiety, I waited to tell him until two hours before it was time to leave home. Still, Matt is the sort of kid who likes to be prepared for things. While I had some leeway with telling him about the doctor’s appointment, I knew that if I took him to the doctor's office and the whole Shot Thing was just sprung on him, he'd completely freak out.
I've never believed in lying to my kids. If they need a shot, I tell them the truth. If they ask if it’s going to hurt, I tell them the truth: yes, it hurts a little but it's over quickly. I handled Matt's 6th grade physical the same way.
Even with my carefully orchestrated preparation, he was a wreck. I had to practically drag him out of the house. I literally had to push him into the doctor's office. In the exam room, he stayed near the corner, kept his head down, avoided eye contact, and didn’t want to answer any questions. Not the usual behavior from my typically gentle, polite, cooperative, respectful-of-authority child.
The exam was moving along OK. Matt wasn't happy but he was cooperative with the nurse and the doctor until he heard that there would be a testicle examination. A WHAT?! Who knew there would be a testicle exam? This is not going to go well. I looked at Matt and could tell that it was a definite deal-breaker. His eyes were the size of silver dollars. He looked at me in fear and slowly shook his head NO.
Dr. Joe, bless him, assured Matt in his most comforting doctor-voice that it wasn't going to hurt and that all boys his age need to have this done.
“In fact,” said Dr. Joe, “you've had this done before when you were very young.”
Matt didn't care. He emphatically announced, "There is no way that I am having this done." He crossed his arms across his chest for added drama.
I told him that he had no choice; the exam was required for school, and all of his friends had to have it done, too. His response: "Good for them, but I’m not doing it."
Hoo boy. I told him I'd leave the room. No. I told him I would turn my head. No. He said it wasn't me; he just didn't want Dr. Joe looking at his business. I told Matt that Dr. Joe has seen plenty of "business", in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Dr. Joe chuckled and agreed, "Oh, yes, I've seen plenty of "business".
Matt replied, "Well, I don't want him seeing MY business."
This is where I could feel the mother-panic rising: What am I going to do? We’re going to be here all night. What is wrong with this child, for crying out loud? I’m sure no one else’s kid is this neurotic and difficult. He must get it from his father.
Matt and I were engaged in a verbal tug of war for an eternity (or at least what felt like an eternity). I tried desperately to convince him that all would be OK and that he needed to have this done, while Matt tried equally desperately to convince me that it wasn’t going to happen. Not ever.
Dr. Joe, who no doubt is in line for sainthood, waited patiently while Matt and I argued back and forth. Finally, Matt's face brightened. I could tell he had an idea.
Matt, to Dr. Joe: "I'll let you do it if I can leave my underwear on."
Dr. Joe: "I don't know if I can feel the testicles through your underwear."
Matt, with steely determination: "It's with my underwear on or not at all."
Dr. Joe: "Ok, let's give it a try. Mom, can you turn your head?"
I turned to face the corner, Dr. Joe did the deed, and the whole thing was over in 2.3 seconds. After that ordeal, the shot that Matt received was anti-climactic. He survived just fine even though he had his eyes shut tight and his face scrunched up, expecting the worst. When it was over, he insisted on a Band-Aid, because he is, after all, still a kid (even if he is a kid with strong opinions about his "business").