I remember taking my eldest for her first flu vaccine like it was yesterday. I wasn’t worried. She was the kind of child who didn’t get phased by much. We’d talked about what was going to happen, she’d asked questions, and she wasn’t worried either.
But when we got in that room. All white walls and strange smells and a very friendly nurse smiling in that way that let you know she was up to something. My daughter decided she wasn’t having any of it. She wasn’t screaming and crying but there was a silent determination that nothing was getting up her nose if she had anything to say about it. And my girl can be stubborn.
So we went back out into the waiting room to have a chat while someone else went in before us. And I was sitting there in a “first time mum” panic wondering how on earth to tackle this. And so was born the little puff of magic.
I told my 2 year old how the nice lady was going to give her a little puff of magic up her nose. And that magic would last all through the winter to protect her from getting sick. I could see she was excited about this idea and I knew I was on to something.
Every year since then she’s had a little puff of magic up her nose, and when her sister came along she got let in on the secret too. They are getting old enough now to know it’s not the kind of magic they thought but they don’t want to let go of the idea entirely. Each year they’ve asked more questions and they’ve understood more about what it was.
But it will forever be known as the little puff of magic in our house. And it’s that time of year again when kids in schools across West Lothian will soon be offered the annual flu vaccine.
This year though, the questions have changed. After listening to many of the adults in their lives talking in recent months about getting a vaccine and overhearing people at the school gates saying how rubbish they felt afterwards…this year they wanted to know if they had to have it, and if it would make them feel bad.
So it was back to basics…only this time we were able to tell them exactly how the little puff of magic works. All these years later there was more science than magic in the conversation but I could still see the excitement in their eyes as they understood.
I hate that they were worried about the flu vaccine this year in a way they haven’t been since that first time. It’s sad that the last year and a half has taken the shine off some of the magic of their childhood. But at the same time seeing them learn and understand for themselves is a different kind of magic.
Published in Konect October 2021
Author: Laura Archibald