Up to age one, infants look on everyone as a friend, so they’re a delight to care for. Afterward, they become aware that some people are strangers, and it’s not a happy discovery. Frightened girls tend to keep quiet, but boys often protest the moment a doctor enters and don’t stop until he leaves.
During one occasion, I removed stitches from the chin of an energetic three year-old. His family doctor had tried, then decided to wait a few days during which time the parents traveled to Los Angeles. Now the skin around the sutures was inflamed, so they had to come out. Normally suture removal is painless, but the child began shrieking at my approach. Both parents struggled to immobilize him, but you can’t prevent someone from moving his chin if that is his intention. Everyone on that hotel floor knew something terrible was happening. It took five minutes to snip four sutures, leaving everyone exhausted.