I made an appointment the other day with the boy’s doctor. The kind woman told me I was “kinda late, dad.” I knew that already. Neither me or Dawn remembered that we were supposed to sign the kid up for a fifteen-month visit. I heard the lady on the phone and I thought about how helpful it would be to hire some taller small person–perhaps a four or five-year old–to keep up with my son’s calendar and all the details of his needs.
The second thing I thought of was his last appointment at the doctor’s office. The day after my son’s first birthday, he went to the doctor for his 12-month appointment. We remembered that one. We even got to see his actual doctor, whose schedule, I’m convinced, is tighter than Jesus’s after a long weekend. The boy got shots for his birthday. It was sad. I knew it’d be too much to watch so I skipped that appointment. Dawn went instead. Of course, going to work was a good cover story for missing the scream fest.
I could imagine the face Bryce gave when he wiped the smile away after the doctor left with her smiling, cheery tone, only to be replaced by the nurse who returned with a tray full of little implements he’s all of a sudden remembering. She places the tray over on that other table. She says something, trying to sound nice like the doctor, the woman who never sticks him. But she fails.
His face crumples into questions for his mother. He can’t say what he thinks. He can’t bring his advancing vocabulary to the question. But he’s afraid of the pinching and sticking and piercing. He looks at his mom, at the nurse. The nurse is saying something, explaining something that he’ll never understand. She’s going into some explication of needles. Something about this being quick. She’s trying to comfort him. Bryce knows that an explanation before a needle means a really painful experience. She moves the tray over.
He’s on his back. There’s the crackling of plastic covers insulating the clean spikes soon to meet his skin. His mother is standing, holding him, pinning him. He can’t even consider why his pants are still off, but he knows. He just won’t admit it. The movement is so quick, the boy can’t glance from his mother to the smiling nurse quick enough. His voice rips into a shredding yell. Tears spring and fall down into his curly hair. He’s thinking about the pain, the betrayal. He’s probably thinking nothing about how I didn’t show up. In fact, he’s probably thinking, “If my dad was here, he wouldn’t let you do this to me!”