Efficiency Can Cause Insanity

Allyson Zedah

October 1, 2013


It started off innocently and with the desire to be efficient. Before I had kids, efficiency was kind of my thing and, to be honest, sometimes I miss it in my life with three kids under 5.

So I decided to be efficient with back to school checkups and our baby’s 4-month well-child exam. Therefore, I scheduled all three kids with back-to-back appointments so I would only have to go to the doctor’s office once.

Those of you that are experienced can stop reading now. If you don’t know where this story is headed, then keep reading.

It’s a train wreck.

So, this appointment. Each kid got their own designated 30 minute time with the doctor: the 5-year-old, the 3-year-old and the 4-month-old. The baby was asleep when the appointment was to start so I took the big kids and loaded up. My husband waited while the baby finished her nap and met us there later.

Thank God I had the sense to schedule this when my husband was available to be there with me.

My preschoolers are generally well-behaved kids. Not perfect, mind you, but well behaved. Not this day. They wouldn’t listen to me. They wouldn’t listen to the doctor. They wouldn’t answer simple questions. Rather, they fought over the germ-infested toys in the exam room and, I’m pretty sure my son’s tennis shoe wound up on top of my daughter’s cheek at one point. They screamed at each other. They fought over who was going to lay on the exam table first. They generally acted as if I’d fed them a dozen donuts before we got there.

Finally, I sent them each to their own corners so I could at least hear what the doctor was saying. This only worked briefly so I had to clench my teeth and use my pointer finger and give those awful mom looks.

Then my husband got there with the baby. Fortunately she’s not quite old enough to talk back or misbehave yet so her exam was pretty smooth. I thought we were in the home stretch of the whole miserable afternoon so I relaxed a little.

Big mistake. Big. Huge.

I knew the baby was going to need shots at this visit, but I did not think that the big kids would. The 5-year-old is barely 5, so she doesn’t start kindergarten until next year – so I thought we were good for another year.


At the mention of shots, things got even more wonky than they had been before. Once we got them talked down from the ledge and bribed them with things like ponies and race cars on their 16th birthday, my 3-year-old son volunteered to go first. He was so sweet and brave! And, that meant he got to get on the exam table first. He did great, all things considered. Of course there were tears and the look of utter betrayal, but he did all right. The nurse was fast and that was good.

With my husband being preoccupied with the baby and me holding our son down during his shots, the 5-year-old was left to her own devices. One split second glance at the needle going into my son’s thigh and she was outta there. Out of the room, down the hall, into the waiting room and on her way to the parking lot before my husband caught her. He carried a kicking, screaming, crying girl back into the office and tried to get her calmed down.

Of course we reassured and hugged and did all of the things that some of you in parentingland are thinking would have been a good idea. However, they were temporary fixes. Fortunately, the nurse was fast again and we were able to at least hold her legs still but it was probably the most difficult afternoon I’ve had as a parent in a long, long time. By the time it was over, I was in tears, my poor husband was wondering what had just happened and all three kids were in the fussy, post-vaccine state. My shirt was so sweaty that I could have mopped the floor with it. The preschoolers were so upset I was pretty sure they wanted to put themselves up for adoption. My husband just picked up the baby carrier and walked out in a daze. The poor baby just smiled in her sweet, toothless 4-month-old way – she was in the best shape of us all.

Next year, remind me to forget efficiency, ok?

I will take one kid at a time.