Dirt Off Your ShouldersPosted: June 21, 2012
One may not think of Jay-Z lyrics when it comes to child-rearing, but what can I say? The “Best rapper alive!” knows his stuff! Another of my nannying goals is to help children become self-reliant in any situation, even injury.
Now, it’s very easy for me to tell the children to buck up, now that I’m full-grown, with an increased threshold for pain, but back in the day I was anything but brave when it came to slips, shots, falls, and wounds. My mama says that I was the child you couldn’t tell if I’d stubbed my toe or broken my leg, because the reaction was exactly the same. I was an incredibly sensitive young girl. I remember when my mama would be brushing out tangles in my hair I would cry and carry on, wailing, “Mama, I’m soft-headed!” To which she (holding back equal parts exasperation and amusement I’m sure) would correct me, “Cher Bear, soft-headed means you are weak-minded, tender-headed means your scalp is sensitive. You are tender-headed.” My folks recognized that my senses were heightened. My dad called me Eagle Eyes for my sharp vision, I was very responsive to sound and smell, so in that way as well, I was a sensitive gal. But, like many children, at times unless I saw that I was hurt, I didn’t always feel it. For me, the drama was vital.
At a PreK birthday party at a Lamar Park in Corpus Christi, I was playing on the jungle gym, flipping over the bars, when my grip slipped and I plummeted to the ground. It hurt, but I looked up at my friends and laughed. It was only when I looked at their faces I knew something was wrong. I looked down at my leg and on the side of my right knee was a large gash, I’d landed on a piece of glass. Welp, that did it! I began screaming and crying, the day ended in 36 stitches and a scar I have to this day. But if memory serves, the cut itself didn’t hurt that bad.
So when the kiddos have an injury, I encourage them to get up and brush themselves off. I comfort them after, certainly, but only after we’ve surveyed the damage with courage. Rebel in particular will ham it up, just as I did, but between his Aunt Aspen and I’s insistence that he “brush himself off”, these days he does just that. We went for a walk the other week and he tripped and took a small fall and instead of spilling crocodile tears immediately, he and I looked at his legs which were left unscathed, then he dusted his plump little hands off, as instructed, and we kept on truckin’. It helps them to see with their own eyes that they are not seriously hurt and that accidents happen, and sometimes they will scare you, but won’t always hurt you.
In my experience, several of the little gals I’ve nannied for have been braver than most of the boys! Boss Lady, if she takes a tumble, not only gets back up, she jumps back up, only taking a hug if it is needed, she’s usually too busy to stop and feel sorry for herself. I admire this, as I was the opposite. Similarly a little gal I babysat for back in my high school days, Snood, was the youngest of four, had all older brothers and got knocked around like crazy, just an occupational hazard when you’re the baby. Every time she’d just lightly push back as if to say, “Hey, I’m right here!” and then continue on! Never a complaint, no time!
I also try to bring a little humor to the situation, joking, “Have a nice trip? See you next fall!” a gem I learned from my dad. I’ll also ask if they cracked the sidewalk, broke the door, many times the kiddos get in on the act. Once Doc took a tumble off the sofa onto the floor and, seeing that he was unharmed, I got down on my knees and started combing the rug with my fingers. “Doc, I think you may have split the rug with that fall! Is the rug ok?” He started giggling and we petted and cooed to the rug that we were sorry, and did it need anything? What could have been a pity party instead became a happy Doc, too caught up in our facetious concern for the carpet to feel sorry for himself, and me humming, “I got 99 problems but a SLIP ain’t one!”