I know you’re not supposed to laugh at your kids, but sometimes they make it easy. I have to tell you about our epic trip to the pediatrician’s office a couple of years ago. I often share the painful parts of grieving, which are of course still a part of our everyday lives. But we are also able to look back now and again and laugh about our shenanigans.
Having kids just 23 months apart meant that physicals were often scheduled on the same day. Having kids who often seemed glued at the hip meant joint sick visits. The boys would infect each other with their gross kid germs or whatever vile contaminant they brought home from school. (I’m a germaphobe. I can’t help thinking sick=gross.)
Last year, it was matching upper respitory infections. Frack, the overachiever, of course managed to contract pneumonia, which left him out for a good chunk of wrestling and lacrosse. Frick settled for a bad cold that had him enduring weeks of breathing treatments to get his asthma under control.
Even as we sat in the ER, both boys in “don’t come near me” masks, I chuckled as they played video games on their phones, waiting to be seen. And of course I couldn’t resist the urge to capture the occasion. I’m so glad I did! Even these pictures remind me of our life together.
But in 2013, while living in North Carolina, I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in the doctor’s office. Any mother of teenage boys knows that things get awkward when they have annual physicals during the same appointment. Lots of giggling and trying to hold it together.
But this time, it was sore throats and fevers that brought us in. Despite both being sick as dogs, Frick and Frack had the giggles before they were even seen. Between grumpy, fever-induced verbal jabs at one another, they laughed as they reminisced about the awkward dual doctor visits they’d had in the past and what that day’s visit might hold. It was all fun and games until the BEST no-nonsense nurse came in to do their throat swabs.
Gavin went first. Everyone knows that throat swabs make you gag, which he did, which had Noah in stitches. As Gav’s eyes watered, he chuckled and smirked at his brother, “you’re next.” Noah, was not good at anything medically related: shots; throat swabs; taking medicine, pills, breathing treatments. He hated them all. He tried to banter with his brother, even as the nurse pinned Noah’s head to the wall to keep him still and cut him off mid-sentence as she swabbed his throat. He gagged so hard that it sent his brother to the floor in laughter. I had lost complete control of their behavior by this point. On some level, I’m sure I should have been mortified, but there comes a time with Frick and Frack that you just need to roll with it.
After what seemed like hours waiting for the strep results, trying to keep them under control, miss no-nonsense returned with the bad news:
- They had strep.
- They were getting shots.
Normal children might have reacted differently. Not my kids. Noah, all of 15, was furious at Gavin for getting him sick. He kept saying over and over again, “You SUCK! You gave me strep and now I have to get a SHOT. I HATE shots. This is all your fault!” Three things made this funny. A) Noah was dead serious. B) Gavin was laughing uncontrollably at his brother, to the point that he made himself cry. C) Gavin’s laughter enraged Noah even more. If ever there were a definition for “sorry I’m not sorry,” it was Gavin’s reaction to his brother.
“I’ll be really sorry if the needle is big,” was all Frack could muster as a semi-apology.
While we waited for the meds, I’m doing what any good mother would do, making mental notes for a later Facebook post because this was just too good to pass up, and constantly reminding the boys to keep their voices down. We were in a pediatrician’s office for cryin’ out loud.
The nurse returned with matching, giant needles for the boys. Turnabout being fair play, Noah was the first to drop his drawers for the shot—Mr. I-don’t-do-anything-medically-related. He sucked wind through his teeth as the nurse poked him. You would have thought she was sawing off a limb. “This may burn,” she said calmly. So what does Frick do? Cuss. In front of the nurse. What does Frack do? Laugh uncontrollably again. “Do some squats. You’ll be fine,” she said. It was clear this woman had either lost her patience with their shenanigans or had dealt with teenage boys before. When it was Gav’s turn, I literally held Noah’s hand (and by that I mean had the “don’t you dare” grip) to keep him from being too overzealous with his, “I told you so,” response for his brother. In the end, both boys survived the ordeal. But I’m not 100 percent sure Noah ever truly forgave Gavin for getting him sick. Years later, they still bantered about it.
On the way home that day, this was the conversation:
Frack: MAN, I feel sorry for people who get stabbed! That hurt!
Frick: Except that it was a needle, Gavin, not a knife.
Frack: It was like a knife with poison in it!
Frick: You’re a drama queen.
Ironic coming from Noah. There isn’t any one thing I will miss the most about the two of them together. Just a lifetime of moments like this. The two of them were such good friends and could joke, laugh, and lean on each other. The other day, after this memory popped up on my Facebook page, I snuggled in bed with Gav and reminded him of the story and we laughed all over again. For a few minutes, it filled our hearts with Noah’s wonderful spirit instead of sad memories of him being gone. If you have a Noah story, we’d love to hear it!