Double-Edged WordsJanuary 16, 2013 at 5:20 am | Posted in Giggles | 11 Comments
Tags: Challenges, Children, Difference, Empathy, Growing Up, Kids, Kindness, Motherhood, Parenting, Perspectives
“Isn’t that kid weird, Mom?”
Giggles said it casually, as if commenting on the purple carpet or the way the air smelled like freshly pumped basketballs.
My heart stopped, but we kept walking. Past the dad with the green T-shirt and retro specs. Past the blond-haired little boy with his eye permanently shut and his cheek puffed out. Past the “Pediatric Craniofacial Specialists” sign where they waited, talking quietly, probably about something altogether ordinary like video games or burritos for lunch.
Giggles, Bun, and I walked inside our own pediatric specialist office and checked in. We updated paperwork, fought over the train in the basket of toys, waited, fought, and waited. We talked with the nurse, got new X-rays, talked with the doctor, got lollipops, and checked out. We bundled up. We unbundled for a potty break. We re-bundled, and walked to the elevator.
The boy and his dad weren’t in the hallway anymore, but I could still see them clearly. And us.
The dad, patient and strong; the boy, stooped and a little sad; me, holding coats, hats, crayons, and a grande Starbucks mocha; my boys, galloping like Adidas-clad rhinoceroses down an otherwise quiet hallway.
Quiet except for this, except for us: “Isn’t that kid weird, Mom?”
How many times had they heard that? How many times had it chinked right through the defenses of that sweet little boy? How many times had his dad held him close and wished he could be the one hurting, the one being examined by strangers and doctors alike?
And how many mothers had sat down with their own children and said the things I said a few hours later? About the difference between thinking things and saying them out loud.
About how our words make other people feel.
About imagining ourselves in someone else’s place.
About being kind next time.
About being kind above all.
What would you have done? How do you teach kids the power of their words in this complicated world? The power of empathy?