After the world's most surreal, and ultimately successful, experience at the blood lab today, I feel compelled to share my newly minted expertise with all of you. Anyone have a toddler? Need to stick them with a needle any time soon? Read on...
1. Have one parent enroll in medical school, preferably before the child is born.
2. Purchase a doctor kit for the child, preferably several months in advance of the appointment.
3. Show child how fun it is to be a doctor and have him or her routinely examine stuffed animals, using a stethoscope to listen to their hearts and administering needles to their behinds.
4. Announce the "field trip" to your toddler as soon as he or she wakes up, making sure to mention the ice cream that will follow.
5. Have a fun way to get to the doctor's office on the morning of the appointment, such as a subway ride.
6. Run laps around the waiting room and play a few rousing games of ring around the rosy while you wait.
7. Have onlookers encourage your toddler's cheerful mood by commenting repeatedly on her cuteness.
**The success of the following steps is critically dependent on successful completion of Steps 1-3. If you have not completed these steps in sequence, cancel the appointment, return to Step 1 and start over.
8. As he or she sits on your lap before the dreaded stick, show your fascinated toddler the vials and the needle and tubing and explain that the blood is going to be tested to make sure it's healthy.
9. Mention, just before sticking, that it will hurt going in, but not a lot, and it will only hurt for a second. At this point, remind him or her that there is ice cream in his or her immediate future.
10. Hold on tight and pray to whomever you feel would be most helpful to you at this point.
11. Watch in utter amazement as your toddler observes the proceedings with inexplicable calm and attentiveness.
12. Leave sleeve rolled up following bandage application to allow your toddler to run rampant through the hospital, showing you and strangers alike how lucky she is to have just received this amazing accessory from a very nice doctor.
13. Eat ice cream.
Now, you can learn from my mistakes and take the experience one step further by documenting the whole thing with a camera. You will just have to take my word for it, but believe me, you'll have a much easier time convincing people that it happened if you have the pictures to prove it.