Apologies for last night’s attempt at poetry. It was never my strong suit. In fact, I distinctly remember my high school English teacher’s response to a poem I tried to write for an assignment.* “Yeah, don’t do that anymore.”
Yesterday, before my boring and uneventful shift, we had a rich, full day. My wife dropped me off at work on her way to bring The Narrator to school, so I could get a few things done and make a meeting. On the way HOME from picking him up from his class, she also collected me so I could sit home with Mini-Me and put him down for a nap while she took The Narrator to the doctor for a round of booster shots. Then she’d race home so I could get back out for my shift.
Somewhere along the line she mentioned the booster shots to The Narrator, and he came unglued. No little kid likes to get shots- in fact, there are still many adults that can’t take it. Until recently, I’m not ashamed to admit- my body would openly reject getting shots, and I’d have what is called scientifically a “Vasal Vagal Reaction**” – essentially, I’d pass the eff out when I got stuck with something. I’m over it now, but it was embarrassing for a while, and hilarious for my friends to watch me try to give blood then hit the floor.
We tried in vain to convince The Narrator that it wasn’t going to be so bad, but it was okay to be a little scared. We promised him that if he were brave, and didn’t make too much of a fuss, he could have a smoothie on the way home from the doctor.
When we got home, as they were prepping to go back out the door, he climbed up on the couch with me and laid it all out on the table.
“Daddy, I guess I’m just not a very brave kid.”
I saw this as an opportunity to teach him a little something about bravery.
“Well” I said, “You can be scared and still be brave. In fact, being brave means you ARE scared, but do something anyway.”
At this point he looked at me quizzically. The idea that bravery and fear go hand in hand never occurred to him.
“That’s right. In fact, if there’s nothing to be afraid of, then there’s no way to be brave. Imagine I send you outside to pick a flower. You go outside and pick one and bring that back in to me. There’s nothing to be afraid of in picking a flower, so there was no reason to be brave right?”
At this point, I think I’m on a roll. Parenting master lesson coming up. One of these moments he’ll remember forever and teach his kids someday. That all came to a screeching halt as I see him furrow his brow for a second, and pause, deep in thought.
“Unless there’s a bee in the flower with stingers and he chases me.”
Game, set, match. It became apparent to me that no matter what sort of genius plot device I used to try to convince him otherwise, he was going to counter me with a gloom-and-doom scenario that justified his idea that if you’re scared, you’re not brave.
Eventually, he sighed and accepted his fate. I tried a few more lame attempts to convince him that he can still be brave and scared, but he counter-pointed me at every turn. Thankfully, my wife ushered him out the door, and I took Mini-Me in to nap, and managed to sneak a half hour doze myself.
A short while later, he come sauntering in the front door, gleefully slurping a smoothie, clutching the doctor’s office lollipop, and sporting a sticker from the office as well. He was as happy as could be. The reason?
Apparently there was a screw up in the paperwork, and the boosters have to be 28 days apart, and yesterday marked day #26, so the whole thing had to be rescheduled. He got off scott free, although I didn’t, and I’ve got a whole week to come up with some sort of plan to convince him that he is still a brave little boy, and that I’ve got the parenting chops to properly tend to a pessimistic, overly clever five year old.
*This was not true at all. Mr. Dearing was, and continues to stand out as one of the greatest educators I ever had, and this includes all of college, as well as my academy training.
**I’m constantly screwing the name of this reaction up, so this is as close as I can remember. I’d google it, but the memories of barfing on a gym floor after a blood drive, then being held prisoner by the corrections officer of a head nurse until I could sneak out the back door of the place are just too painful.