Yesterday afternoon, we were at a picnic with some friends when my daughter got a blister on her hand. She had been playing on the monkey bars, and though she has been doomed with blistered hands from the monkey bars many times before, she keeps going back for more. Seeing as how this is completely preventable pain, I have a hard time giving her much sympathy. Especially because these are, ”OH!! TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES!” blisters. The kind where she cries real tears when she washes her hands and cries, “It burns! It burns us!”
I have no patience for this lack of toughness. It’s probably because I’ve seen my son go through eight surgeries in his five years, and have seen him poked and prodded with needles more times than I can count. He once had an IV in his head, and he has scars all over his hands and feet from all the other times he’s needed something dripped into his body. He doesn’t even cry anymore when he goes to the lab for blood-draws, and immunizations are a walk in the park. Once, in recovery after surgery, he actually stopped breathing. His Dad and I stood there in terror and disbelief as a nurse stood over our son yelling, “Don’t quit on me! Don’t quit on me!”
So a few years ago, when my daughter fell to the floor in a panic as I came at her with a sewing needle to remove her first splinter, I didn’t even know how to handle the situation. At first, I thought she was joking. Because, really? Could a five year old actually melt down because of a splinter? The answer is, yes. My mild-mannered, sweet, wonderful daughter TOTALLY flipped out. She was on her back, lying on the floor, kicking, screaming, crying, snotting…it was unreal to me. When I finally got her to calm down and got that splinter out, she seemed to be rational again. She said, “It wasn’t that bad. It didn’t even take you very long.” I thought we had an understanding.
Turns out, I was wrong. Way wrong. Shortly after the splinter, she needed a strep test done and freaked out so much at the sight of the throat swab that she threw up. A strep test the next year took all my strength, along with the muscles of two nurses to keep her still. All while the doctor pinched my daughter’s nose shut to force her to open her mouth. Simple procedures and things like paper-cuts send her into so much of a tizzy, that we are ever fearful that she will actually injure herself, then go into shock. I can’t imagine a broken bone or a deep cut. God help us and everyone in a ten block radius if the girl ever needs surgery. They would definitely have to use sedatives…and I’m talking about for me. “Ma’am, please put down the nitrous tank. Your daughter needs you.”
But tonight, I looked at my daughter and saw her rubbing her blistered hands without any tears in her eyes. Maybe it’s because she’s getting older, maybe it was because she was with friends, maybe it’s because I told her last night that she needs to “buck up”. No matter what kept her from coming to me and crying in pain, I was really, really proud of her and this new found backbone of hers. Another thing no one tells you about being a parent is just how gratifying such small steps can be.