There are few things more difficult than watching your child cry even when the object or deed causing her tears are for her own good. We confess, Adriana is as spoiled a 7-year old as there can be. She’s mama’s baby through and through. I call her Margarita’s cola, her tail. She refuses to let me do something for her choosing instead to go out of her way to ask her mother. But that’s another part of our story.
Adriana and Luís, who is nine, are part of our church’s CDI program for kids. Part of the program is having physicals twice a year. They receive containers for collecting urine and fecal samples. They bring them to the church on assigned days and have blood drawn. The following week, the medical people return with reports for each child. If something turns up as a result of the tests, they receive treatment or medicine and the parent receives counseling on prevention and care. Today was Adriana’s day.
Since she has school in the morning session, we got there early. Some children were already being processed. A row of chairs sat outside the CDI office and Adriana took her place. The children moved up a chair as the first child had his or her blood drawn and emerged with the wad of cotton clenched between forearm and budding bicep. Margarita stood with a few other mothers talking while I lubricated the locks to the church, offices, and classroom.
As Adriana’s turn approached, her natural little girl smile seemed a bit more forced. Her mother approached to ask the obvious question, “You’re not afraid, are you?” I stroked her hair and reminded her this wasn’t her first time. I doubt she heard me or felt the love in my hand. Moisés, an older boy, emerged with a big grin. Adriana’s turn.
She had barely sat down on Margarita’s lap for the phlebotomist when her face curled into the mask of fear and tears appeared on her cheek. Margarita turned the princess’ face away from the woman in white and held her head in a Hulk Hogan headlock. The nurse wiped her arm with alcohol and palped it looking for the best vein. Then for any vein. Finally, she chose a spot to insert the needle. These seconds must have seemed an eternity for Adriana. I know they did for me. “Get it over already, please.” was my thought as I tried to pat her cheek. She seemed to pull from me harder than she was pulling on her exposed and vulnerable arm. The nurse asked the fellow keeping records to assist in immobilizing the excited extremity. The needle went in with a scream.
I watched the tube expecting a spurt to fill it quickly so the nurse would pull the needle out. But it only filled about 1/2 inch. She squeezed the tube a little hoping to use suction to start the flow. That didn’t work. Then she did what really caused me to want to scream also. She withdrew the needle slightly and began probing in this direction and that for a good vein. No change. Then she asked the other nurse for advice. The second woman came over and withdrew the needle leaving a scarlet spot on my baby’s little arm. She went to another spot an inch or so away from the first and inserted the needle. A bit more success. She managed to fill the tube about 3/4 full. All this while I could feel my own tears forming as I looked at Adriana’s face. I’m sure most if not all parents have seen that “Why are you doing this to me?” look. “You’re supposed to love me and keep me happy.” Two of the teachers were in the doorway watching. I looked into the sympathetic face of one who seemed to not only commiserate with Adriana but with me as well. Then it was done.
She received her cotton ball. I dried her eyes with my handkerchief. I think she even pulled away from that gesture. I just wanted the sting to go away. She folded her arm and we walked outside. The children closest to the doorway of doom gave looks of compassion. Everyone loves Adrianita. Clinging to her mother like great white to an Australian surfer, she finally let go long enough to put her jacket on before leeching to her mother’s arm once more.
We got her to school in plenty of time. There she ran to Karlita, a classmate and fellow survivor, and they compared notes. Karlita is not a crier. After a brief conference with the kids’ teacher, we walked home. We all got over it. But my mind retreated about seventy years to my father’s words when I was about to receive his belt on my butt. “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” I couldn’t comprehend his meaning back then. But it’s hit me home more than once in my 50+ years of parenting. It seemed especially poignant this morning. Forgive us, Adriana, for loving you so much that it hurts.