Kay and I both knew the routine better than we would have liked. Poised on either side of the petite 5-year-old, prepared to corral a flying limb or bear-hug a writhing body. It soon became apparent, however, that this one would not put up a fight. He seemed intent on putting up a brave front, his expression grave and stoic. As the needle neared his arm, however, he couldn’t hold back the tears springing to his eyes or the trembling to his body. I gave an extra squeeze to the hand I was holding and pointed over to the shuttered windows, pulling his attention away from the side about to be pricked. 

“You see those windows?” I asked. 

He nodded.

“We can’t see outside them,” I continued, “but I know what’s out there. I can see it too—it’s a blue elephant. Do you see that?”

His eyes widened. He nodded.

“I think it’s the mommy elephant. I see another one, too . . . do you see that?

He nodded again.

“What color is that one?”

He paused. “Pink,” I heard, soft but confident.

“I see that one, too!” I exclaimed. 

“It’s the big brother,” he added.

“I think you’re right! You know, I think there might be another one there, too. And I think it’s fuchsia. Do you know what color fuchsia is?”

He shook his head. I started to describe the color but then interrupted myself to point out to him that he was all done, blood drawn and arm bandaged.

He smiled.

There comes a time, I suppose, when all you need is a fuchsia elephant.