20 February 2009

Of needles and icecreams

I took Ella for her 4yo immunisation round today. I had warned her a week ago about what was going to happen and again this morning. And I had promised her "an ice cream if she didn't cry, a mere lollipop if she did." I don't feel bad about bribing her with food on this occasion. Sometimes the end really does justify the reward. And I don't feel guilty about putting pressure on her to hide her feelings. As a huge generalisation, the modern Western culture is not one that particularly values consideration for others - unlike for example the Japanese - EXCEPT when it comes to reaction to pain. "Boys don't cry" is still a much valued mantra, even if we have gender-neutralised it and extended it to girls.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this before, but my Ella does not do the "being stoic when in pain" bit well at all. She doesn't actually care for it, even though I am becoming increasingly "mean" in my methods to try enforce the idea that it is NOT ok to cry and whimper over every little scratch or bruise. It goes against her drama queen aspirations, I think, and I fear that my rather insensitive reactions are having the opposite effect. I ignore her when she cries over falling over or bumping herself (unless it's a "biggie", but that's different), I tell her to be brave - it'll only last a minute, to toughen up and even that "nobody likes a crybaby". All to no avail.

Back to the needles. The doctor was fabulous. Anyone who can engage in a conversation with my daughter about the differences between ponies and unicorns whilst keeping a straight face, immediately and unreservedly earns my sympathy. He was also very no-fuss with the needles. As soon as they were ready, he plunged them into her thighs. It was all over in about 2 seconds.

AND SHE DID NOT EVEN BLINK! Even though there was B-L-O-O-D, usually a reason to scream for a bandaid NOW. As he gave her her green jelly bean, the doctor said: "She is obviously a terrific kid". I ignored the "you should see her at home" thoughts and just proudly smiled.

Afterwards she told me that it did hurt but she didn't cry because she wanted an icecream. I think I even managed to not look smug when she told me. And I thought I had definitely deserved my icecream too.

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