Yesterday after dropping everyone in their respective schools I went back to the elementary school to get Arleigh. Even though, thankfully our elementary school years will continue in Hawaii, it is time for Middle School shots here in TN. I used to hate taking them when they were babies. They had no idea what was coming. They would be looking me in the eye with smiles of love one second and then shock and pain the next. I’ve realized since then that it is so much worse now that they are older. Poor Jack realizes that if he is at the clinic and his pants aren’t on, bad news is on the horizon. When we lived in Virginia, a retired Marine was called every time I went in with Hanan. It took him holding her upper body, me holding one leg, another nurse holding the other leg and another nurse to actually administer the shot. Arleigh weeps before, during and after. Then there’s Bria… She just gives everyone the stink eye until it’s over then asks for the most expensive Barbie she can think of for a treat.

I know lots of people ask to be seen by civilian doctors in town. We were automatically sent to a civilian doctor here because of where we live. It makes me appreciate the military clinics. Arleigh and I waited forever in the waiting room, her anxiety level rising by the second. We finally get our tiny little room. Apparently anxiety levels jump with every move. We waited for the doctor FOREVER… okay another 30 minutes. We are blessed. Arleigh is healthy, growing normally. Her spine has straightened out. We’re ready for the next growth spurt. The doctor looks everything over. Looks like she is due for two shots. She gave me the option of now or waiting until next year. I said now is good. Arleigh didn’t think good was the appropriate word.

As we waited, Arleigh sat on the tissue paper silently weeping. It’s horrible to see your child so scared. It’s also probably horrible to have a mother telling you that the shots are good thing because they keep you from getting sick and in some cases dying. I tell her things like a little prick and burn is so much better than a horrible death. It’s also probably horrible to have to wait another 15 minutes for the nurse to come in while your mother waxes on poetically about the tragedy of being born in a country where vaccinations aren’t available and children die every day. I’m perfectly aware of the loads of therapy bills I’ll be paying later. I did give her my phone so that she could play Temple Run or Angry Birds and distract herself.

Shots happened. She handled it like a trooper. Small tears dripped. I did feel sympathy since there is still a mark on my arm from the shots I had for travel to China. She got her stickers and a lollipop. We were out of there. She was missing lunch at school. We had also already been out more than two hours. I asked where she wanted to eat… She said Red Lobster. Huh? What happened to my kids who always said Chick-fil-a or McDonald’s? I told her we didn’t have time. She opted for a quick trip to Barnes and Noble for soup and cheesecake and a new book.

I learned some things having lunch with Arleigh. First, I love hanging out with her. She is turning into quite the young lady. She is finding her sense of humor and becoming her own person. Second, when having lunch at Barnes and Noble, you really need to be careful where you sit. We sat at a nearby open table. Over Arleigh’s shoulder I could see all the “New Romance” novels. For the rest of the lunch I wondered if I would need to distract her. Thankfully her eyes were directed toward legos and games. I remember the romance novels my mom used to read. Now I know why they were mostly hidden in the back of her closet. At least the entangled bodies on the cover of her novels still had most of their clothes on. I felt like I was being forced to look at soft porn. Hard to keep the broccoli and cheese soup down. The last thing I learned is that Arleigh thinks I’m really, really old.

Arleigh has mentioned us having more kids without me mentioning it at least two or three times lately. Usually there is a hint of at least disdain in her voice. I decided it was a good time to bring it up and see why she’s mentioned it. I asked if she ever wanted another brother or sister. Her answer…”Not unless you adopt a 10 year old.” Huh? I asked why. “Because you would be like 72 going to a high school graduation. No kid wants an old parent.” I told her if I had a baby today I would only be 56 when I went to a high school graduation. She rolled her eyes. Nice. I have no idea where she learned that from. Then she told me that 56 is still way too old to be at a high school graduation. I’m sorry if you are, were or will be 56 at a high school graduation. Please remember my daughter is a tween with little sense of age. Thirty is probably ancient in her mind. I guess I learned a lot at lunch.

I also guess that’s all I have to say about that.