We all know parents that do the dreaded Gasp of Sympathy every time a kid falls down. Whether they see their kid hit their head on a table, trip on a curb, fall off a bike, slip on a patch of ice or tumble into a vat of glass shards, some parents have no self-control. Before the kid has even hit the pavement the mom's eyes quadruple in size and she has inhaled so deeply that it always surprises me when I discover that there's any oxygen left for the rest of us.
While I try desperately not to fall into this category, I was guilty of it one time when Zach was in second grade. After his scooter hit a crumbling piece of sidewalk, he went flying off the thing and he used his left elbow to break his fall. I didn't gasp when he fell, but as soon as I saw his misshapen elbow I made a sucking noise that was the equivalent of me saying OH MY HOLY HELL YOUR ARM IS GROTESQUE THEY'RE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE TO AMPUTATE. This of course threw him into a little bit of a panic, but thanks to Doug giving me a look that felt like a smack in the face, my composure quickly returned and I was able to think logically. Turns out that while his arm was in fact broken, it wasn't broken very badly and his elbow wasn't even misshapen. Apparently when someone has really skinny arms, it looks like that all the time.
Ever since that episode of unwarranted fear and panic, my kids know that it takes quite a bit of pain and discomfort to push my sympathy button. After all, they're old enough to get an ice pack out of the freezer and they all know where the Band-Aids are kept. If the injury is really severe and there are tears involved I may even get the Band-Aid for them, offer up a dose of Advil and even say something really consoling like gee, I'll bet that hurts a little bit, good thing you'll recover.
While I was at Zoe's tennis lesson a couple days ago, I discovered that she has acquired my suck-it-up mentality. When the kid that she does lessons with fell down and started to cry, she just stood there and looked at him with a bewildered expression. Don't get me wrong, Zoe cries about something almost every day, but it's usually about:
- Not getting her way
- Starving, even though she just "ate" lunch
- Something that Charlie did wrong or didn't do right
I just stood there beaming with pride while his mom leapt to her feet and consoled him. Zoe looked at me with a what-a-wuss look, shrugged her shoulders and then went back onto the tennis court and took advantage of some one-on-one time with her coach.
Later, after I had donated a Band-Aid from Zoe's tennis bag and the kid's tears had been dried, he went back onto the court but was obviously distracted by the presence of the Band-Aid. Zoe seemed happy to have her friend back, until he missed a shot.
"You missed! Stop picking at your ow and pay attention!" she barked before hitting a backhand.
I was amazed and overwhelmed and somehow managed to resist the urge to run onto the court to give her a hug. How in the hell did my thoughts come out of her mouth? And she even managed to use the perfect tone of voice. What a girl.