“Do. Not. Touch. Anything.” My warning was delivered in my most dire ‘do this or else’ mommy voice.
“Right. Nothing except the toys.” C answered nodding knowingly.
“No. Nothing. You don’t touch anything. Especially not the toys.”
I saw her start to argue and I went for words that I hoped she’d understand (Thank you Sid!).
“When children are sick, parents take them to the doctor and while they wait they play with the toys in the waiting room. Their germs are all over the toys in there. Germs are what make you sick. You don’t touch anything. You hear me?”
She nodded sadly.
“But what about the fishies?”
I relented a little. “We can say hi to the fishies, but only if you promise not to touch anything. Deal?”
Deal struck, I pulled into the parking lot and ushered my kids into the
cesspool of flu germs pediatrician’s office. Luckily someone was just stepping out, so I didn’t have to figure out how to open the door without using my hands or putting Little L down. I can trust C to listen when I say ‘don’t touch,’ Little L, not so much.
We checked in and I stayed a foot away from the counter. And then in the waiting room I made sure C kept her hands on the two stuffed bears she had brought in with her and kept herself away from the toys, books, and chairs that beckoned invitingly. We spent some time saying hi to the fish while I studied the other people in the room.
At first glance everyone else there was clearly waiting for a vaccine – the way the parents were staring everyone down like me was a clear giveaway. But suddenly a tired looking dad walked in leading a child wearing a surgical mask. All our eyes instantly darted to the big “If your child has flu symptoms please tell us so we can give you a mask.” sign hanging near the entrance.
“Hey girls! Let’s go look at the picture hanging in the hall!” I shooed C out of the room without making eye contact with the dad. Three seconds later two other families followed us out of the room. The only thing worse than imagining all the germs that are crawling in that waiting room is being thrown face to face with them.
The rest of the visit proceeded without further incident. We collected vaccines, stickers, and cheery waves goodbye and I managed to open the door without actually touching it with my bare hand. In the car I handed out liberal rounds of hand sanitizer and I shook off the mental image of bright kid friendly surfaces crawling with germs and viruses.
They’re vaccinated. Finally.