I have to take my cat Charlie to the vet later this afternoon. (He's been throwing up, poor baby.) I'm worried about what might be wrong, of course, but more immediately, I'm worried about actually getting him there. Charlie is...not so good with the carrier, let's say. Charlie actually doesn't care for being messed with in any way. He's a total freak, is what I'm saying here. (But he's MY freak!) I'm sitting here going over various scenarios for tricking him into the carrier, and hoping that maybe my own excellent behavior as a child will net me some good karma.
No, really. I was, in many ways, the BEST kid ever. (If I do say so myself.) Going to the doctor or the dentist, getting a shot, taking a pill...no sweat. I never really saw what all the fuss was about. And fuss there was--from my brother and sister. I remember my mother hiding pills in applesauce, smashing them up in orange juice, cleaning up the inevitable vomit when a laborious attempt to swallow a pill without choking went awry once again. I watched it all, and I thought, pragmatic little four-year-old that I was: WTF? (Okay, I probably didn't ACTUALLY think the "F" part; I was way too well-behaved to curse, even if I'd known that word.) But seriously, I'd put the pills in my mouth, swallow them quickly down and get on with my life. Ten seconds, done, and I'm off to play or watch TV while my siblings wasted an hour of their lives. Fools!
Same thing with needles. Hold still, stay calm and it's over quickly. Kick and scream and fuss, and the experience just lengthens. Why couldn't my brother and sister learn from my excellent example? But they never did.
A co-worker was telling me last week about her young niece, who is so freaked out by the dentist that they actually had to hospitalize her to do dental work. I remember my own family dentist (truly a family member, actually--the husband of my dad's cousin)--and his particular method of dealing with children. This was back when getting gas at the dentist was practically unheard of, when we ALL got cavities that had to be filled, and shots of novocaine were standard procedure. Bill would have you close your eyes, and start scratching your gum gently with his fingernail. "You feel the scratching? I'm just rubbing your gum with my finger." Then, having distracted you with that, he'd slide the needle in and give you the shot. Well, he never fooled me. I knew he was giving me a shot, but I didn't see the need to freak out about it. I was somewhat puzzled by the whole "I'm scratching your gum" thing, though, and once asked my mother about it on the way home from an appointment. "Why does Bill always do that scratching thing before he gives the shot?" Screams arose from my brother and sister in the back seat: "HE'S GIVING US A SHOT?!?!" Hee. Sorry, Bill. Didn't mean to tip your hand.
It's a good thing I was (and still am) very calm in the face of physical ailments and injuries, since I was (and still am) the most accident-prone person on the planet. My mother once said to the doctor, as he stitched my fingertips back into their proper place on the ends of my fingers after a particularly heinous pizza dough roller accident (in my mid-20s), "It's a good thing she has such a high pain tolerance, since she's the one of my kids always getting hurt." "Maybe she has a high pain tolerance BECAUSE she's always getting hurt," he replied. Huh. Good point.
Concussion and scraped face from a bicycle accident, broken arm from a horseback riding accident (nurse: "I can't believe she's not screaming, they always scream at this point"), shredded face and broken nose and nearly ripped-off ear from a car accident, gashed nose from a bottle-throwing incident (good story), whiplash from a tornado-related car accident (also a good story), nearly melted sinus cavities from a sort of but not really drug-related incident (that's a REALLY good story), broken arm from a lawnmower accident, cracked rib from yet another car accident...you get the picture. I am always calm. Fix me and send me home, please. Thanks.
So really, some of the karma of those years of being calm and easy in the face of impending medical intervention ought to come home to roost, wouldn't you say? Charlie should go obediently into his carrier and let the doctor do what she needs to do, right? Right. I won't hold my breath.
And, okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that, while I was, as a child, incredibly calm and easy-going in the face of medical intervention, I did have my quirks. Ask my mother about the socks with the "wiggles" tantrums sometime and watch her start to laugh. I did NOT, for the record, LIKE MY SOCKS TO HAVE WIGGLES. And while I thought that "my socks have wiggles" was an incredibly descriptive telling of my woe (for a 4-year-old), my mother had NO idea what I meant. I meant that those annoyingly thin, lousy with frills and lace anklets all the little girls wore back then would slide down inside my shoes and wedge underneath my arches in a MOST disturbing way. (For the record, I still hate that feeling.) So I refused to wear them. Loudly. Finally my mother, having realized that though she might never exactly understand the "wiggles" angle, she perfectly understood the "refusal to wear them" angle, went out and bought a bunch of nice, stretchy bobby socks, which stayed obediently where they were meant to, and that's what I wore with all my dresses, style be damned. Let all the other little girls have their anklets--I was wiggle-free!!
Okay, so I was a bit of a freak. Charlie must take after me.