One of my kids had a strep test. The insurance co-pay was $15, but there were hidden costs.
On the morning of day three of “my throat hurts” with no other symptoms except for a few rogue sneezes, I presented the put up or shut up ultimatum: “School or doctor. What’ll it be?”
“Doctor,” he said.
Crap. No school + doctor = I wasn’t going to get anything done.
What I said when he cried and swatted at the giant cotton swab the nurse had to shove down his throat: “Be brave! Let the nurse do her job! It’s no big deal! You’re okay…it’s okay!”
What I was thinking: Better you than me kid! I would never let her stick that thing in my mouth. I’d rather have an epidural! Tell that nurse to tickle her own damn tonsils!
The strep test made me a liar and a jerk.
The only way to win his love back – because even though it was his idea to go to the doctor, it was obviously my fault that he was assaulted by a foot-long Q-tip – was to reward him.
“What can I do to reward you for your courage?” I asked knowing full well what the answer would be.
“The toy store,” he said through tears.
We settled on Target because it was closer and open and I needed a few other things (Target sells wine in my neck of the woods). One tower of 50 Crayola Pip Squeaks Markers, one sketch pad, one Imaginext blind bag, one box of Children’s Claritin chewable tablets (per the doctor’s instructions), and $47.18 later, balance was restored to the universe.
By the time we got home, I was exhausted, depraved, remorseful, $62.18 in the hole, and stuck at home for the rest of the day with a not-really-sick kid who wanted chocolate chip Little Bites and icy-cold water approximately every eleven minutes. In addition, I had nothing but unwanted time on my hands to fold two loads of laundry, including two fitted sheets (the worst!), unload and reload the dishwasher, stare at but do nothing about the half-dozen piles of crap on the dining room table, think about but do nothing about the dog poop strewn all over the back yard, and plan a dinner that I knew in my heart I wouldn’t actually cook.
In case you were wondering, the strep test came back negative. Shocker. The kid went straight back to school the next morning because strep tests were costly, and I couldn’t afford another day like that.