Jack usually spends Thursday night with his Granny as has been tradition since he was 1 month old. She called me at 7am on Friday morning saying that Jack has developed a huge lump on his neck and was in quite a lot of pain because of it. So I drop everything, jump in my car and speed over there. When I saw these lumps (there were actually two, one on either side of his neck) I couldn’t help but gasp at the size of them. No word of a lie, it looked like there was an egg buried under his skin… it was huge and I was scared.
Straight to our magnificent Doctor who saw him straight away and advised a series of tests as she wasn’t sure what they were. Now, anyone reading this who is a mum will know the dread that rushes into your heart when you hear the word “tests” during your child’s visit to the Doctor. Invariably it means needles, blood and all the trauma, snot and tears that comes with it. Equate it to an investment banker hearing the words, “double-recession,” and you get the gist of what I’m talking about.
Preparing your 6 month old baby for a jab is one thing, you pull down there leggings, give them a big cuddle, jab-jab, cry-cry, hug-hug and it’s all over. Trying to prepare your 4-year-old for a TB test is not quite as easy. I’ve always been one for being honest with my kids about the real world, “yes, it will be a bit sore”, “no, it won’t taste nice”, etc. I explained to Jack what was going to happen and he wasn’t happy about it at all. I promised him a mountain of sweets if he was brave which certainly helped ease the tension for him I’m sure. As did the opportunity to show the world how brave he really was! I’m not kidding, I really am absolutely sure that it played a role in his acceptance of what was to come.
After I was done explaining and we were waiting for the Doc to do the test, the nurse that was preparing the injection mentioned how nice it was to see a mum that was truthful with her child. She said that what really upset her most of all was, “As jy stout is dan sal ek jou by die suster bring vir ‘n inspuiting.” Translated: If you are naughty then I will take you to the sister and she give you an injection. I agreed with her that, that was a truly barbaric way of threatening a child. Cruel to the child and the sister who would, one-day, inevitably have to inject the child.
Jack was diagnosed with enlarged lymph glands and is prescribed two courses of antibiotics concurrently. Jack has always loathed any anti-biotic. I think it is the texture; that thick white suspension that he just loathes. Taking medicine, or muti as we know it, was a major battle between me and my son during his first 2 years and we managed to fix it, (another story, another time) but this time he seemed to have regressed to his old ways and was steadfastly refusing to take it. The furthest I got was to get him to take it but out it was spat immediately. This is particularly unnerving when on the bottle, in capital letters it reads, “ MUST FINISH COURSE!”
After about half an hour of fighting with him I sat him down and said the very words I had vehemently declared barbaric not 4 hours earlier. The only thing I will mention in my defense is that I spoke nothing but the truth. I was at my wits end. “Jack, the doctor says you have to get this muti inside your body because it is the only thing that will make your neck better. If you don’t swallow it then the doctor will have to give you an injection!”
I laid his cards on the table plain as day. I explained his options as they were. The truth was indeed brutal but it was, at least, the truth. Most certainly he would have had to have his antibiotics intravenously if we couldn’t get them down his gullet. Those are the facts.
In the car he was put by Dad to go to the hospital to get his injections and on the way, “Dad, can I have some green-beer (cream-soda) with my muti and I promise I will swallow it then.”
Well, 7 days, 14 doses and 6 cans of cream soda later we are out of the woods and Jack is back at school and his usual cheery self.
What I got from this? Two things:
As brutal as the truth may be, there is nothing quite like it to bring home the reality of a situation, even for a 4-year-old.
It is truly remarkable just how much of this savage world our little ones can take in their stride.