You know that feeling you get as the parent of an infant, the one that tells you that your newborn knows something that you don't? Well, go with it, 'cause it's true. I have proof.
Last week (yes, this is evidence of my too-infrequent posting habits--I'll try to pick that up), Sarah's mom was in town, so I got excused from a trip to the pediatrician for Max's 4-month checkup, which includes two shots and an oral vaccine. Mind you, up until this point, all of the previous pediatric appointments--even those that ended with shots--had been joyful occasions (well, up to the insertion of the needle anyway), with Max showing off his numerous wonderful qualities (which obviously have nothing to do with me), and the doctor finding him endlessly entertaining. At one point, she told Sarah, of Max's seemingly excessive nighttime sleeping patterns, "Don't question it--just consider yourself lucky."
Something tells me her tune was a bit different after this latest appointment, in which Max launched into what has been described to me as an epic meltdown. Even though he left the house his usual happy self, he apparently started to crack right as Sarah and her mom walked into the doctor's office with him. He proceeded to cry, louder and louder, throughout every second of the exam, sending unsuspecting infants and their sleep-deprived parents running for cover. I picture it like a grotesque cartoon in which we zoom in on the baby's crying mouth, which is consuming all of its surroundings.
Things got even worse when the doctor decided to find out if a fever might be causing this outburst, and lo and behold, Max's temperature registered at over 100, enough to get any new mother headed down the worry path, and Sarah was no exception. What was especially disturbing about this fever was that there were no signs of it earlier in the morning AND Sarah had given Max a dose of baby Tylenol (since thrown away amid the recall!) in anticipation of the shots. (The previous round of shots was followed by 5 painful days of Max wallowing in discomfort.)
In any case, the upshot of the tantrum and accompanying fever was that the doctor decided to skip the shots and vaccine and have us come back. Which apparently was just what Max had in mind, because by the time he had settled back in at home, and mom and grandma had filled me in on the theatrics, he was back to his normal self. I mean fully back--no crying, no fever, no nothing. And here's the weird part--the fever never returned. It was as if the whole thing never happened.
There's only one conclusion a sane person can draw from this episode: Max did not want those shots. How he knew he was getting them, where he found the inspiration to hatch his diabolical plan, and what gave him the self-awareness to recover so quickly is totally mystifying--not just to me, but to Sarah, her mom, the doctor--everyone involved.
Which brings us back to my original point, about your baby knowing something you don't. That something is how to really best meet his needs. Because heaven knows, his needs do not include pulling his pant leg so a giant stranger can jam a needle into his thigh. I just hope it's not a foreshadowing of what will occur the first time we ask him to clean up his room. I have to admit, though, I'm thinking about using his strategy the next time I'm asked to spend my weekend doing yard work.