Friday, April 19, 2013

Cold Hearted, Mean Mommy

I've never met anyone who openly questions me when I don't drop everything and run whenever I think one of my kids has the slightest booboo. However, I have gotten a few questioning looks and one or two "evil eyes" when my children fall down and hurt themselves to the point of crying and I don't immediately pick them up. Maybe I should explain why I do that.

There are two reasons why I am slow to answer the cry of pain:

First is that I took a babysitter's certification course when I was eleven. They drilled into  my head the importance of observation. You don't rush in when you see someone hurt, or in some kind of physical peril. You see what may have caused the trouble first (electrical wires, sharp objects,...). Determine, if possible, what the problem is, if it will endanger you, and whether intervention is actually necessary or wise. Observe, observe, observe. Pausing ten seconds to take in the situation and make an appropriate judgement can prevent many evils.

Second, is that I have a life. Mommy is not always going to be there with a Band-aid and a bottle of Pedialyte to "make it all better". The kids better cowboy up.

I've seen some kids melt down into a puddle of neurotic goo because they tripped and fell in the sand, and then the mommy goes into EMT/physiatrist mode. I feel bad when my kids get hurt too, but seriously, most kids are not made of fine hand blown crystal. What's more, going overboard like that contributes to other problems, like making them think the injury is worse than it is, or that deliberately hurting themselves will get attention.

One night when Colin was about 6 months old, Aaron and I put him to bed and walked out of the room. He of course cried for a few minutes then was quiet. Suddenly we heard a "thunk" and "WAAAAHHH!!!". Thinking he was seriously hurt, I ran in there fearing the worst. He was fine. He just tried to sit up, I guess, and lost his balance and hit the bars of the crib. No big deal. The slightly pink welt faded away before he even finished crying. I put him back down, and left again. Five minutes later, "thunk", and "WAAAAHHH!!!". I thought to myself, there is no way I'm playing this game, and I stayed right where I was. He cried for a few minutes, but Colin never hit his head on the bars of his crib again.

What I actually do when my kids are hurt and crying: I make myself available, but keep my distance. If they need a hug, or a band-aid, they can come to me for it, not the other way around.

So far, the results of slow response have been positive. Colin and Karyn are confident, coordinated, and relatively independent (sometimes too much so). They take calculated risks, pick themselves up when they fall, only come for comfort when it bleeds or really hurts, and recover quickly.

I may be a cold hearted, mean mommy; but Colin and Karyn seem to be doing alright.

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