The crying game / by Susie Lubell

I've spent the last four years trying to teach my son that crying doesn't get you what you want. He remains unconvinced and rightly so because, in fact, it's not true. Crying does get you what you want. Me anyway. Not always. Like when I was 25 and I sobbed at the US Airways counter having arrived after the boarding cut-off that I absolutely had to get on the plane because I had no where to go in Denver (not true) and no money (true). No can do. US Airways sucked even pre-9/11 it turns out. But when I threw a tantrum about keeping my son's car seat on the plane just in case there was an extra seat (there ALWAYS is) because it would be better for everyone on the plane if my 15 month old had a seat for the 11 hour flight to Israel…I got my way and there was a seat and everyone was happy, even my husband who generally would rather slink into a lavatory when I start on one of my rampages. I've even gotten out of speeding tickets people! It's a money-saving tool as well as a stress-relief system. The wonders of human evolutionary mechanisms continue to amaze.

And it worked again yesterday. I took my son to have his TB test site examined and in fact he doesn't have TB. I know, SHOCKING. Because it's really going around in Silicon Valley…I had taken him on Friday to have his four-year old vaccines (two of them) which we missed for some reason because we didn't see his usual doctor for the last check-up. That part is still a mystery. But when I started his registration packet for kindergarten I realized that were missing four shots and the TB screening. I was not about to give my son what amounts to five shots in one setting. I know it's medically acceptable but I just couldn't stomach it. The three shots on Friday were traumatizing enough. And I'm not even 100% sure he's going to kindergarten next year. But the application is due February 28th and all the rumors are that if it's not complete it will be thrown out and I guess that's when you have to quit your job and home school your child. Huh? None of this makes sense to me. Especially since my son won't be five until October and shouldn't need his five year old shots until he's five. I mean, I didn't make up the schedule, doc! I'm guessing you spread them out for a reason. Maddening. So, on the advice of another parent whose child has a fall birthday, I ask my doctor if she can write him a note saying it's not advisable to give all five vaccinations at once. She says she won't do this and that's when I start to get a little flustered. So I call the district nurse whom I have called three times in the last month with no return call. The admin says she's not in and while I'm explaining the situation my voice starts to warble and it's clear that I'm about to start sobbing so then suddenly the school nurse IS in (what a miracle!) and she talks me off the cliff. And, incidentally, decides that as long as we have the remaining vaccinations in by July, then my son's place in school is safe (the program we want is a lottery which is why I care so much in the first place - if he gets a spot, I don't want them to give it away because of the damned vaccinations).

So you see, crying works. I'm wasting my time trying to convince my son otherwise. I should just tell him straight up that turning on the waterworks is definitely the way to get what you want. I'm guessing though, this is not actually the case for boys/men. I'm actually embarrassed now that's it's all over. I was embarrassed as it was happening. But it's just not something I can control. Sad but true. So you'd think I'd be more understanding about my son's tendency toward emotional outbursts. But for him I have even less patience. It's like watching my most annoying quality magnified by ten and served back concentrated into a three and a half foot, forty pound mini-me. The horror.