Here we go. Youngest’s use of her childhood appellation for me means I’m on parent duty. I’m going to have to make a decision, sort something out, sympathise, cheer up, cook, wash, drive to A&E, move a heavy item of furniture, lend one of my favourite things, or be Queen of Stains. I’m braced.
“Will you come with me to get my Covid jag? I’m scared.”
“I’m not surprised. You’ve driven yourself daft listening to people repeating stuff they’re read on the interweb.”
“You look at stuff on the interweb.”
“I look at reliable news websites,” I say, sounding pompous (I like animals doing funny stuff too), “written by trained journalists talking to sources, that are legalled and checked and …”
“Yes, yes. Will you come?”
In the jag centre, we’re queuing, she’s hanging on to me. Maybe I’ve been harsh, she is genuinely nervous.
“I agree with getting it,” she says. “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but what about future side-effects, because it was developed so fast, say in ten years, 20 years.”
“Well there’re always risks, you’re right to think about it, but for me the biggest risk right now is the virus that’s killing people.”
“For people YOUR age, long-term’s not an issue, but for young ones…” she says.
Hmph. I let it go. Apart from a mild “most side effects show up quickly” I’m in Mummy mode so I’m being kind. I pat her arm as we progress through the line of waiting booths, racing her to be the first to get to the one seat in each. I’m winning 4-1 when one of the staff asks if we’d like a second chair. Thanks, we’re fine. (With her competitive streak engaged, she’s not thinking about The Needle, but we’ll keep the noise down.)
At last we’re in. Two seats, one nurse, one needle. Youngest rolls up her sleeve, looks away, fixing me with eyes brimming with are those tears, as it goes in.
“Sorry. I don’t like needles,” she tells the nurse.
“Says the girl who last week got a dragon tattoo etched down her back,” I say to him. “Four hours of needles. Not a peep about that.”
I turn back to my baby, who is pulling down her sleeve. She looks at me. The tears have gone. And in their place... is that irritation? She’s back.