You know kids are listening to every word you say. Usually this discovery is made in the grocery store line at top volume. A small sweet “Shit” rings clearly through the store as you look around and all other parents are giving you the stinky eye. Or a child takes the Lord’s name in vain with a loud “God damn!” in front of the most religious person you know. But in those quiet moments just before sleep or when you’re trying to bring comfort to a child in pain you question that knowledge. Is he listening? Can she hear me?
For each and every blood draw, IV, or vaccination I hold my children tight so they can’t move. When I was 4, I got a shot in the leg and was told if I moved during this vaccination the needle would break off in my leg and they would need pliers to pull it out. This is my fallable 4 year old memory talking here but it has been a key memory that contributed to my needle phobia. I don’t know if I hold them too tight but I know my kids can’t move. I try and distract them or give some small comfort by kissing their hair an saying “I love you sweetie, everything will be alright. Mommy’s here.” Like they could forget that Mommy was squishing the movement out of them while someone else slides steel into delicate parts of their flesh.
Brenna, obviously, has been the recipient of this loving torture quite a lot in the last 9 months. I never knew whether she could hear me over her screams and I figured I was the only one gaining some small shred of comfort from my words.
One Sunday afternoon Brenna started a game. She would poke my arm with her finger and tell me to cry. I humored her. “Waah, waah.” We played this game a couple of times. I was only half paying attention when I realized that she was whispering something into my armpit while I was hamming up the cries. I bent down and put my ear next to her lips. She patted my arms and hair and whispered. “It’s O.K. my baby, Mommy’s here. Mommy’s here. It’s going to be O.K.” When she realized I was listening she patted my arm.“Here’s your sticker,” pat on my chest, “here’s your band-aid,” pat on my arm. “Good girl, my baby!” She patted my hand then went to find another game to play.