Sunday, April 29, 2012

when tomboys become mothers

I am not ashamed to admit that I am relatively ambivalent to minor injuries. The only time I've visibly flinched or even let out a small cry of alarm is when I've seen the Little Miss' head come within millimeters of a hard corner. But if I were to react to every time she caught a toe and tripped on the sidewalk or wasn't paying attention and walked into the wall (clearly we share some genes here) then I'd be a blubbering ball of anxiety.

Personally, I don't believe in getting worked up over every bump and bruise. I don't believe in scooping the child up and coddling her over every slight discomfort. It seems cold, I'm sure, when she nearly bites it and I simply tell her to "dust it off," but my child - the ultimate bad ass of toddler bad-asses - gets up and dusts herself off.

Also, I don't remember NOT having skinned knees for longer than four minutes as a child. So as terrible as this may sound, I want her to fall and get bruises and scrapes. I think it's a part of growing up.

Today, however, was the first time (that I am aware of) that I could see and feel the judgment of my non-reaction to my child's injury. We were at Panera getting items for our weekly carbfest. My girl was confused and upset that we weren't staying there to eat and as I held her hand and tried to guide her towards the door, she yanked her arm away from me and in doing so, fell backwards into a cabinet. As her back hit the door it made an awfully loud noise and two ladies jerked there heads to see what had happened. The looks on their faces were something like this:

"look of disapproval" emoticon
As my child sits there and wails, I tell her she's fine. Probably not the best way to react in public but truthfully, she was fine. But these ladies just stared in disgust and one cried out, "What happened?!" I looked at her and said flatly, "I was holding her hand and she yanked away from me." Still, they continued to stare at me as if I had just thrown my child against a wall. As I took her out to the parking lot and calmly explained to her that she got hurt because she didn't hold my hand when I needed her to, and that we couldn't stay because Daddy needed us to bring home his carby goodness, my eyes darted around warily, watching for a cop car to show up and start questioning me about beating my child. Seriously, the way those women looked at me, I thought surely they were about to dial 911.

Now, even when she is having one of her less pleasant toddler moments...

... they are soon balanced out by her doing/saying/looking heart-breakingly sweet:

I am not a perfect mother. Obviously, this blog is more of a self-obsessed fitness diary than an ode to family life, so I don't focus a whole lot on everything parenthood-related when I write. But I LOVE my kid. And just the notion that someone would think for a second that I would hurt her on purpose makes me sick.

So do me a favor, rubber-necking busybodies: Say something to the parent smoking in the car with kids in the back seat. Give dirty looks to the person who yells at her kid, "I TOLD you to SHUT UP." Go bother the person who lets their kids run circles around the restaurant whenever they go out to eat.

It's because I love my kid that I don't protect her from every boo-boo or plead with baby talk to get her to cooperate when she's feeling a bit TOO independent.

I don't know what you think, but I'd say the outcome is good so far.

Anyone ever give you crap for your parenting practices?

How do you (or would you, if kids are in your future) teach your kids to be tough and strong?

1 comment:

Kate said...

I'm sure you are a great mom! And I think the way you react to her bumps and bruises are the way parents SHOULD react. A lot of the time, when a kid falls down, they don't actually start to freak out until the parent starts freaking out. It teaches them that freaking out is the way to react when something hurts a little bit. Teaching a kid to get up and dust themselves off is going to be much more useful in the long run.