A shot in the dark

IMG_8112Today is the scariest day of the year - the day we make that annual trek through neighbourhoods of ghouls and goblins (i.e. pumpkins and scarecrows) to join hundreds of other parents and children on a similarly daunting task.

Today is flu shot day.

Back in the B.C era of my life (Before Children), announcements about flu shot clinics barely registered. I was healthy! Shouldn’t our bodies learn to defend themselves? Besides, every flu shot recipient I knew got the flu! Blah blah ignorant blah.

In truth, I was secretly hoping to get sick. I just wanted a few drug-induced days of bad television. I may have even touched a few germ-infested keyboards in an attempt to hasten the process. It never worked.

Now that I have kids, there are several reasons why I hold my breath and dive into the flu shot pool:

I don’t want the kids to get sick (because we will all be tired and grumpy).

I don’t want to get sick (because I will be tired and grumpy while my kids bounce off the walls).

I don’t want Luke to get sick (because I’ll be grumpy at him for staying in bed all day).

So I make the gamble that two hours in close quarters with hundreds of people and three hand-sanitizer stations will reduce my overall risk of sleep-deprivation and bouts of irrational anger. At least this year, I had a brilliant plan.

“What kind of jerk takes their kids to get flu shots on Halloween?” I thought to myself with a menacing cackle.

Turns out, there are lots of like-minded jerk parents in this city, many whose children were on a P.D. Day. What’s that saying? Great minds think alike and dummies end up standing in a huge line with restless kids who can’t stop thinking about candy?

Our collective ignorance led us all astray. Despite it being less than an hour before lunch, I packed just a few small snacks, water and, thank the good lord, a half-charged iPad. One lady forgot her health card and had to fill out a detailed form about her life, since I guess you wouldn’t want to accidentally vaccinate an impostor. Another lady looked longingly at the zombie-like faces of my hypnotized children as her wards tried to swing off the line dividers.

We were ushered to the nearest nurse’s station. Janet, our kind and brave practitioner, introduced herself as I attempted to pry the technology from E’s hands. Up until that point, E had been all for this act of preventative health care. But the moment it went in her arm, she opened her mouth, turned red, stopped breathing for a few seconds, then let out the kind of scream one might associate with having a car door slam on your hand.

Janet and I locked eyes. Hers held the look of a long day getting longer. Mine conveyed a mix of embarrassment and regret. I turned around to see the saucer-like eyeballs of the kids standing in line as their parents hung their heads in defeat.

“Probably not the kind of advertising you were looking for,“ I offered with a sheepish grin. She smiled and turned her attention to the little guy. After his jab, he cried for a few seconds then got distracted by something shiny.

Then we went to Safeway where E was offered a free donut and we bought their few remaining bags of over-priced and unpopular candy. High fives all around.

Next year, I will leave earlier, pack more snacks and, most importantly, check to see if it’s a P.D. Day before we walk out the door. I will also try not to leave my Halloween candy purchasing until four hours before the Elsas and Ironmans start arriving at the door. At least with this strategy, I wasn’t tempted to erase the morning’s shenanigans with waxy chocolate and no-name cheezies.