Readers, meet Genevieve the Octopus.
The last time we went to the aquarium, Genevieve (the human child) pointed at a stuffed octopus the size of a body pillow and declared that she wanted to buy it.
Since we bed-share (or "co-sleep"), a stuffed octopus the size of a sofa was completely out of the question. It's a snuggly arrangement.
We went to the gift shop downstairs, and I showed Genevieve three or four appropriately sized octopuses she could choose from.
Predictably, she chose the purple, sparkly octopus. (I had lobbied for the more realistic looking one.) That is how Genevieve the Octopus joined our family.
A few weeks later, SuperAndrew, Genevieve, and I went to get our flu shots together, with Genevieve the Octopus in tow.
(At Kaiser, parents/guardians can get their vaccinations at the same time and place as their kids. It's fantastic. As fantastic as getting a shot can be, I suppose.)
After a shot, we always get French fries and milkshakes on our way home. It's something to look forward to after, and is often the incentive for getting the shot done and over with. [Mom used to take us for ice cream after shots, but Genevieve turns into a Gremlin when she has sugar. Sharing a milkshake is really as far as we can go right now.]
We went to a different Kaiser than normal because it was on our way that particular day, and the injection nurse was phenomenal- but that didn't stop Genevieve from screaming down the walls and terrifying the kids in the waiting room before anything had actually even happened.
While Maria the Nurse was extremely skilled (I didn't feel anything when I got my shot), Genevieve made use of her excellent lungs and loud voice screaming encouraging things like, "TAKE ME AWAY FROM HERE!" and "MOMMY, SAVE ME!" I can only imagine what the poor kid in the waiting room thought was happening in there.
Once it was finally done, we did the walk of shame from the injection room, through the pediatrics lobby, and out to our van, carrying a screaming, howling, crying Genevieve.
It took us nearly an hour to calm her down enough to get in the car seat and go home. All of our nerves were frayed, and - if it hadn't been noon - it would have been wine o'clock when we got home.
When we (finally) got home, Mom suggested taking Genevieve along the next time she needed to get bloodwork done. [Mom is on cardiac meds, and has to get coumadin levels checked fairly regularly. She is a human pincushion.] That way, Genevieve could watch Gramzie get a shot and be okay without having to get a shot herself.
[With the dogs, this is called a "happy vet visit"- where they go in, get weighed, get a cookie and belly rubs, and go home. We did these with our dogs, once a week for a few months, and it made a HUGE difference with vet anxiety. I highly recommend it.]
In the meantime, Genevieve the Octopus had mysteriously gone missing.
"Clean up your toys and she'll turn up," I told Genevieve, repeating what my mother told me at least seven million times. (It bears mentioning that she was always right.)
About a month passed, and it was time for Gramzie to get her bloodwork. We went to the Kaiser that was on our way (the one we rarely go to), and told Genevieve the deal that day: no shot, no milkshake. (She was due for a vaccine; we weren't just getting her jabbed for the fun of it.)
Genevieve decided that she wanted a milkshake, and she was ready to get her shot. Just our luck, Nurse Maria was there again, and unfortunately, Genevieve started howling like a siren as soon as her sleeve was pushed up. As I held her there, feeling like Mother of the Year, I looked to my left, and-
"GENEVIEVE THE OCTOPUS!" I exclaimed, as if I had come across a lost loved one by accident. (I had, I suppose.)
Genevieve stopped screaming (just long enough for Nurse Maria to get the shot in) to look and see what I was talking about.
"Genevieve, LOOK!" I said, "We found her! You must have dropped her the last time we were here, and she's been waiting for us to come and get her!"
After a series of questions confirming our ownership of Genevieve the Octopus (because, after all, we couldn't run off all willy-nilly with someone else's purple, sparkly octopus), Genevieve and Genevieve the Octopus were reunited at last.
I'm glad I didn't insist on the more traditional octopus; anybody could have left behind a regular octopus on accident. Thank goodness for her sparkly tentacles.