We are straight shooters in our home. Not in an overly intense or harsh way, but our policy is to be open, honest and we tell it like it is. We don’t read the books and we don’t listen to the latest articles from childhood psychologists, but from the beginning of our parenting journey, Jarett and I decided that we would speak to our kids as if we were on the same level.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t treat our children like friends or adults for that matter, but we never wanted to assume they couldn’t handle things just because of their age. Or shelter them for worry that they may not be able to handle it. This may be why our children seem a little more mature in certain aspects. And it also may be why they each have the sarcasm skills of a 45 year old. I’ll take the blame for that one, but I rather enjoy our own warped version of Golden Girls that happens on the daily in our home between the seven of us. Well, at least the six of us who can talk.
I’m rambling so let me get back to the story…
So we have gotten a bit behind with Miss Blair’s immunizations between switching doctors and re-scheduling due to sickness, etc. And we knew we needed to get her in to start catching up in time for Kindergarten that is coming up this fall. To be honest, both Jarett and I were a little on edge with how she would handle it now that she is a bit older and would be more aware of what was going on.
Remember that straight shooting thing? Well, we knew we weren’t going to spring it on her so a week prior we casually mentioned that she was going to be going in to the doctor’s and the reason for it. There were a handful of questions and you could tell she was a bit nervous, but she stayed quiet after that and didn’t bring it up much for the next few days.
The morning of her appointment and as we got ready and packed things up to leave the house, I could sense that she was a bit inside of her own head – quiet and not overly bubbly like she usually is. And from one girl to another who has had her fair share of anxious feelings, I knew exactly where she was at.
We arrived, met with the doctor who managed to get some really good laughs out of her with some quality jokes and then he left the room after telling us the nurse would be in shortly with her two shots for the day. Blair never faltered. And as the nurse walked in, she still never lost her game face. She knew exactly what to do since we had gone over what she could expect the week before. I stepped right in front of her, pulled her to the edge of the exam table, wrapped her legs around my waist and wrapped my arms around her. I kept eye contact with her and reminded her not to look because it makes it harder. She smiled as she remembered and braced herself. First shot, done. And she let out a quick cry while the nurse went as quickly as she could with shot number two. Within less than 10 seconds, both were over and done and she continued to bury her face against my chest while she let herself cry for a moment. The nurse applied her Band-Aids, told her what a great job she did and said goodbye to us.
I looked over at Jarett and without even saying a word, we both knew what the other was feeling. We ached for her. As minor of a thing as it is, it’s always hard to watch our cubs go through painful experiences. I ran my fingers through her hair and gave her another squeeze before I pulled her away just a bit so I could look into her face.
“Blair, do you remember what we get to do now?”
She looked up at me with those beautiful brown eyes that were now full of tears and I followed my question up with, “Ice cream!”.
Yes. I may tell it like it is with my kids, but I am not above bribery.
The biggest smile crept across her face as I reminded her again at how brave she was followed with a high five. Before climbing down from the exam table, she looked down at her arm and I noticed her eyes got big and another large smile graced her face.
“Mom! Do you know what they gave me?”, she was almost yelling in excitement. After asking her what, she replied with, “TWO MY LITTLE PONY BAND-AIDS!” – she repeated – “TWO, MOM!” as she held up her two little fingers to give us a visual. We started laughing and agreed that it was really cool.
Jarett and I sat across from her at the ice cream shop and she made sure to let us know how happy she was with her My Little Pony Band-Aids that now graced her arm as well as it being all worth it in-between licks of her single scoop vanilla ice cream cone. She excitedly recalled how brave she was, how nervous she is for Kindergarten in the fall and how she couldn’t wait to play MarioKart with her brothers and sister later that afternoon.
Jarett grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze as we both smiled while listening to her chat on and on. It’s never easy making our kids do the hard things or having to watch them be worried or be scared. Parenthood is like an alternate universe where you live in constant contradiction. On one side, you worry about the world they are growing up in – it keeps you up at night and makes your insides ache. Or the thought of them having to go through something you know will hurt them – physically or emotionally. On the other side is constant reminders about how joyful life can be with that joy sometimes coming from the most simple of things. We just have to recognize them. And give our minds the space to be grateful for them. No matter how small.
As we walked out of the ice cream store holding her hands, swinging back and forth, I found myself taking a small and quick moment to realize it. The simple joys. Because they really are beautiful. And they can make the hard times feel just a little less hard. And all it took was my four year old and her childhood innocence to remind me of it that day. And, of course, Band-Aids and ice cream cones.