Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Life: flu shots, driving around...

We’re all dong pretty well here and chugging along in day to day life. No great adventures. Haven’t made it out of the compound and out into the real world all that much in recent weeks. We were a little staggered by news from the homefront. Becky got real busy at work because a few new people started and she had to work them in. We had our first visitors, which was fun but definitely takes a bit out of you. And on and on we go.

But we’re all good. I am working on two stories for the Journal, which will be pretty interesting if they pan out. I’ll have more to say soon, but one is sports-related and one is a first-person lifestyle piece about stuff I’ve written about up here.

I have been driving around some and it is really liberating. I didn’t fully realize how limiting it felt to not drive after all these years behind the wheel until I got my license and started driving. The kids had last Thursday and Friday and then Monday off for teacher’s meetings or whatever. It felt like they did a need a bit of a break actually, but those three days sure dragged on. On Friday, I drove them all up to River Garden (where we used to live), left them at Kathy’s house for an extended play date, came back and worked =for a few hours and went back and got them. It’s only 10 minutes away sans traffic and that’s no big deal, right? Except it was. Not sure I would have done it f I had to take a cab each way. And then there’s the fact that there’s no better than a 50 percent chance of the cabs having seat belts in the back, which is obviously not a great situation.

Monday, I drove us all down to Untied Hospital to get flu shots. Becky got one at work but I took the kids. It was my farthest afield drive as that is in town, about half way to downtown. I decided to go for it after my friend Ingrid said it was easy to get to and drew me a map and I knew the basic area fairly well. Luckily, Ding Ayi came with me because Ingrid forgot to mention the two insane traffic circles I had to navigate. Ding knew the way and it was very good to have a navigator so I could just focus on driving. The driving is pretty nutso but not all that bad to me having so much NYC road experience. You definitely have to be on your tows and think aggressively. There are not really lanes, but more vaguely defined driving areas.

United is a Western style hospital. Everyone there speaks English and the doctors are supposedly Western trained. Of course, we were just getting shots. It was a nice place, though, quite comfortable with a good kids’ waiting area stocked with great books. Jacob sat down, picked up the Lorax and started reading it to himself. I was so proud.

Eli began protesting going for the shot the night before. He was adamantly opposed to the whole thing and swore over and over he was not going. The word “hospital” freaked him out so I told him in china that’s where you see doctors and it didn’t mean we were sick. That calmed him temporarily, but he was on edgh and definitely plotting how to avoid the shot. We were called in and all five of us went into a little room. I said I would go first to show how it didn’t hurt. Jacob was right in front of me, studying the procedure with the intensity of a greenhorn learning to do a tracheotomy.

They had some kind of problem with my shot. No big deal, butt hey were kind of swirling it around my shoulder muscle and there were drops of blood popping out. Frankly, it hurt (and still does a bit two days later) but I kept smiling. It did take a little long though and Jacob’s eyes were getting wide as saucers. “Oh man!” he exclaimed. “China shots are not like New Jersey shots! They take, like, five minutes, not one second.”

“No, no,” I assured. “That’s how all adult shots are.” God, being a parent turns you into a crafty lier.

He sort of bought it, or at least went with it. Anna was goofing around. Eli was growing more and more terrified. Jacob said he would go next. I toldEeli to leave the room. He did. Then he came back. In and out. Jacob finally sat down on my lap and got his shot. He cried for a few seconds, and Eli walked in while there were tears. “Did it hurt Jacob? Did it hurt?”

Jacob very helpfully said, “Yeah, it hurt. They give long shots here.”

Eli screamed and fled. Seriously. He was gone. Anna sat down on my lap. I unbuttoned her blouse and held her pudgy little arm and she got the shot. She cried for a millisecond. I let Ding take her out and I went out to get Eli. Jacob was back out there reading the Lorax. I looked out the window to see if there was a DVD store on the block so I could properly bribe E and saw a woman in leather pants with long black hair literally trying to drag a man passing by into a massage parlor. They do that here and it’s not the back getting rubbed, but that’s a whole other post for another day. I had to borrow some of those arm-grabbing techniques and drag Eli with me.

I brought him back in. There were two nurses there and he would not sit down on my lap. One of them said, “Your little sister got the shot and she didn’t cry.” Like he cared. He was bucking around like a bronco. Oh, I should also mention that he was dressed in a full Steelers uniform. Gold football pants and a black and gold Steelers logo jersey. We were all kitted out for the game yesterday morning, but I took my Randle El jersey off before heading for the hospital. (They look like a first round playoff loser to me, but that’s yet another post.)

I remembered that I had some candy in my pocket.. these sort of gummy Life Savery things that E likes. I pulled them out and said, “You can have these after your shot.”

“Nope, now,” he said, bucking away from me.

“Okay, you can take one and put in your mouth and suck on it while you get the shot. Then you can have the rest.” He takes it, a tacit acceptance of terms. Or so I think. He dodges off my lap again and screams, “Jus let me finish this and then I’ll get the shot!” Suck, suck, exaggerated, lip-smacking suck. This could take a while. Finally, I pick him back up and one of the nurses says to me, “Hold him hard between your legs. I will hold his arm.”

And so we do. He is moving around and screaming like he is getting a heart and lung transplant without Novicane, but the other nurse gets the needle in and out and it's over. They slap a band aid on and EIi doesn’t quite know what to do so he asks for another candy.

Then we go home. No problems.

Mr. Li was here, cooking away. He had steak and potatoes, but he also had something else cooking., I couldn’t tell what it was so I asked him and he smiled. “Pancakes.” He so desperately wants to make something Jacob will eat. He has whipped up fresh fettucine and made great scallion pancakes and something has always been wrong, with everything but the dumplings. But the fact is, if Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck and Chef Boyardee himself gathered in our kitchen for a quorum meeting and crafted a Jacob-special meal, he would likely sniff it, push it away and ask for a bowl of Honeycombs. Which is what he did with the pancakes. They were kind of greasy, I must say.