There are about a million titles for this post, too: “mortified” or “most embarrassing moment ever” are on the list.
We knew it was going to be a long Monday. Stephen was up working on a video until 3:30am and the alarm still went off at 6:30am. I needed to head out by 8am to get to the Burmese clinic, where a sweet little ten-year-old boy was scheduled to get a tetanus shot and more antibiotics after the dog attack yesterday. They couldn’t provide rabies shots, so we were going to go to the public Thai hospital afterward to begin his five rounds of rabies vaccinations.
I was greeted at 8am by a birthday party for one of our neighbors. I will still argue that birthday parties in this culture are not a highlight for me. This one in particular involved me eating a second breakfast as they heaped my plate with rice, cashews, pickled cabbage, and spicy meat. I don’t eat much meat here at all, and my gag reflex was kicking in full force.
I used the little boy as an excuse and the two of us headed off to the clinic by 8:30am. It went fairly smoothly, amidst waiting and getting his bandages changed. The vaccination room was our last stop, and that is where it all fell apart.
He freaked out. It started with him firmly denying the shot, but quickly escalated into his hanging on to the barred windows with his hands and feet, crying and flailing as three grown men tried to pry him off the wall. After half an hour of attempted bribes and rational argument and dramatic screams, he was pinned down to the table by three grown Karen men and given the shot while I looked on absolutely embarrassed and lost as to what I was to do.
Having been given the shot, I thought it was over. One of the men sat him in a chair next to me; I apologized to him, rubbed his back, and then turned to the nurse to finish up paperwork so we could just go home. I didn’t think I wanted to tackle the public Thai hospital, where the rabies shots would be more painful and I was able to communicate less. I didn’t think I wanted to go through that again.
And then it somehow got worse.
He got up and started to walk away while I was talking to the nurse. As he left the immunization room, I apologized to her and ran after him, trying to tell him we were going home and he needed me to get there, since it was a good five kilometers away. Somewhere in there, he flipped. He took off running toward the road and away from the clinic, at which point one of the male medics joined me to run after him. He caught him, which only resulted in heinous kicks and screams and thrashes. The medic took him over to put him a chair to calm down, handing him to me.
There wasn’t a chance in the world I could hold him. Even at ten he was far stronger than me, and he was gone from my grip within seconds.
There was another chasing game, a few more thrashing attempts to control him, another chase to the road. All of these were at the center of the hospital entrance in puddles of grey mud, surrounded by huge crowds of people, all watching the ridiculous white woman attempt to corral the ten-year-old boy that obviously hates her.
I don’t know how to describe the insanity, the shouting, and the scene we created.
In the end, three more men held him at the entrance while I was told to get the motorbike to go home, now covered in mud and obviously disheveled.
He thrashed about as they put him on the motorbike. I was told to go, so I grabbed on to his leg and drove with one hand, trying to ensure that he didn’t bail off the back.
I dropped him off, translated his antibiotic dosages, and then went off to the office to try to catch the end of staff meeting. I looked like I had been beat up, with kick marks on my legs and splashed mud covering my jeans, my adrenaline pumping.
Happy Monday, friends. May you not get in a wrestling match with a really strong ten-year-old today!