I have this vague recollection of being a child and my mother taking us to the local health center for shots. I recall being in what felt like a never ending line that circled the building, slowly inching up to our fate of our dose for disease prevention. I heard children's cries the whole way, each one starting out loud from the initial violation, gradually slowing and calming to the sound of their mothers' soothing voices. As a child in line that day I vividly remember how it made me feel to hear the cries coming from the inside of that building, as if I was headed for Purgatory itself. Now as a parent I understand that sometimes, even when it hurts, certain things really are for your own good. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to make it any easier.
Yesterday was Drew's 3rd ear surgery in a year. I know that he will be better off if we can, once and for all, repair all of the problems that we have been trying to fix. So that maybe one day he can pick a seat in his classroom next to a friend instead of having to sit in a certain spot to be able to hear better; maybe one year he can start school without any "NO RECESS" Post-It note warnings next to his name; maybe one day soon he can go swimming or venture out into the rain, feeling free to lift his head up and stick out his tongue to catch a few drops instead of running for cover with his sweatshirt pulled up and over as a protective shield.
Maybe one day he won't have to worry so much.
Sometimes it feels like the line is endless, and I am listening to those excruciating cries as we inch our way up. Only instead of me at the end of this line I will ultimately hand over my son. They will put him out under the premise of fun and smiley faces and "What flavor would you like in your mask?" and "Did you see the hot air balloon pictures on the ceiling?" But I know, and so does he, what happens when he wakes up.
Unlike the fleeting pain of shots, he will wake up and be inconsolable. My words will attempt love and comfort but they will sound loud and annoying. My touch will attempt to calm but instead will irritate. We will offer popsicles and slushies only to be met with cries, because saying "yes" requires a decision and saying "no" is like admitting defeat, and because a measly little popsicle in a cup feels about as helpful as dumping a glass of water on a forest fire. I want to carress, whisper, distract and love him back into lucidity, but such efforts get rejected when my son is coming out of his drug-induced stupor. I've heard it said that when you have a child on drugs, you can't reason with them because you're not talking to your child, you're talking to the drug. While in this case it is temporary, I think I know what that feels like.
Only time will tell whether this surgery was successful. I keep telling Drew that all of it is for his own good, as we patiently (?) wait for the evidence that would make it true. "For your own good" has its own set of consequences, but I remain confident that one day, one day, it will come.