Kids are resilient. I bet I have been told that no less than 100 times since I have had my babies. And I am sure I have passed that on about as many times to other Mamas as well.
And it’s true. Take my less-than-graceful Maylie, for instance. We were home from vacation for less than five minutes when she bit it on the neighbor’s driveway while running in flip flops — not once, but twice. The second fall resulted in a scuffed-up check and forehead and some wicked, quick-onset bruising.
I went into full Mama panic mode — quietly of course — as I applied ice and multiplied cuddles while texting pictures to my medically educated family members. We did some concussion quizzes — memory testing and finger following — which she passed. Then we piled on triple antibiotic cream and several healing kisses for a few days. And within a week, you could barely tell that it happened.
Even a friend commented she “healed like the Terminator.” Resilient. That is what her little body is. But what I struggled with most was how her mind handled it.
You see, we were still unloading the car after we bandaged up her elbow and hip from her first fall, so I heard her scream when she fell the second time. Amid the pain of the fall, she yelled, “I hurt myself AGAIN!” As I was consoling her, she questioned why she so clumsy that day and why she hurt herself again.
And my heart broke. Because her heart was hurting worse than any of the scrapes she endured. She was completely mad at herself for falling. And I have witnessed her frustrations with herself many times before, like when she doesn’t correctly make a letter or her circle is a little more oval shaped. She can be so hard on herself if she doesn’t get things just right. All or nothing. Just like me.
Don’t get me wrong — I do not encourage this. In fact, I try hard to explain that things do not have to always be perfect and that it is OK to fail but to never give up trying. But I also understand the desire to be the best and the frustration that comes with not always being it.
And as we roll into August and everything “back to school” is upon us, my main worry is my sweet little girl with fully exposed emotions illustrating the softness of her heart joining the sometimes-cruel kiddie real world.
Not only is she hard on herself when she is tackling something and it goes wrong, but I have also witnessed her sadness while being alone in a group of kids. I have watched everyone wanting to hang not with her but with her little sister Reagan, who at first was just the cute little baby and is now the outgoing, will try anything, risk taking life of the party. I have seen the sorrow in her eyes when she simply wanted someone to jump on the trampoline with her and no one wanted to go.
Yes, she has always been a little bit of a loner and can have just as much fun playing by herself. But I assure you she loves the idea of having friends and has made many in her few short years (trust me, our nightly prayer list has grown substantially as she insists that we add each new friend). But those have always been kids of our friends or kids from preschool — three afternoons a week. She has never been around the same people all day, every day.
And I remember how brutal kids can be and how one degrading phrase can shatter self-esteem and send rippling and lasting effects of self-doubt. I know, it is part of growing up, and she will need to learn to deal with it for years to come. But as a mother, I just want to prevent any pain and discouragement from entering her sweet, little soul.
You see, I dream of a world where people are kind, where kids (and adults) are inclusive and loving. A world where being different does not mean being any less important. And I pray every day that I am raising my daughters to be just that in this world.
But I also pray that the world in turn is kind to my girls, that it is a two-way street and they will get back the compassion that they bestow.
As they go through this life, I know they will trip and fall on their own and they will get pushed down both physically and mentally. My only hope is that their little bodies (and minds) never lose the resiliency to get back up and heal.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.