Yesterday I took Nathan to get his flu shot. It turned into a very loud, very embarrassing procedure.
I knew he was nervous so I did what I could to increase the odds. I took him out of school so that there would be fewer people and I wouldn't have to bring Alex with us. I promised him a doughnut if he behaved with dignity. I showed him video of other children getting injections (and not screaming). I talked to him about how important it was to tell me if he was afraid rather than throwing a tantrum, which he promised to do.
None of it helped.
As soon as he saw the needle, he began to shriek that we were going to kill him and that he didn't want it. I held him still and the nurse did it quickly but it was loud enough to make my ears ring.
On the one hand, I as a parent wanted to comfort my obviously terrified child. On the other, I was embarrassed that he was so disruptive (he sparked a wave of crying and terror in the other children waiting). I was frustrated that this was happening despite my precautions. I was disappointed he'd broken his promise to talk to me instead of screaming.
I'm not sure if I'm expecting too much of him developmentally. I don't know if there's a moment where the fear can be staved off and redirected or if it just swamps him without warning, overwhelming his system. If it's the latter, that's not a great sign since it means he likely won't be able to control his reactions, which I could see being very limiting in the future.
I worry about how quickly he can go from apparently enjoying himself to full-on meltdown. With Alex, there are signs of the impending apocalypse. Nathan can hit critical in a split second with little to no outward sign. I'm presuming that things build up inside but I can't get him to tell me what it feels like from his perspective.
I have no idea what else I could have done and that leaves me feeling like I must be missing something.