Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Courage (as taught to me by my 6 year old son)

My 6 year old son has had a very trying 2 weeks.

He's had a very serious cold, was diagnosed with Asthma, & learned about how it can compromise mortality, been on breathing machines, swallowed pills, gotten shots, rehearsed for his kindergarten graduation & dealt with all the regular curve balls life throws at a person.

For the entire duration of that time, I've been by his side, literally & physically. As usual. I wouldn't have it any other way.

There was a pinnacle moment at the doctor's office that I found somewhat amazing.

He had received 2 breathing treatments to help clear his lungs. After that, the doc decided that he needed a liquid medication to beef up the effort. They brought him a cup full of disgusting liquid, & he politely, yet sternly said, "I don't want that, it's nasty." The doctor attempted in her best "doctor knows best" voice to convince him that he should take it, otherwise he'd get a shot instead. Without missing a beat, dude said, "Gimme the shot" & looked at the doc as if he was thinking "G*ddamn right, I said that." She shrugged it off, & the accompanying nurse chimed in, siding with the doctor's advice.

My son didn't budge or blink.

"No, I can't take that stuff. It's nasty, I'll just take the shot please."

Another nurse walked in, & said "Okay, we'll just do it like this....." By now, knowing my boy, I could see that this was going to be a battle of wills. How dare this child challenge the authority of certified pediatricians? But, nonetheless, that's exactly what he did. I leaned back & watched how the situation was going to unfold.
The third, umm, more urban nurse decided that she'd administer the medication with one of those syringes that don't have a needle, like the ones used to give young babies their medicine orally.

Ha! No Dice. My son is by no definition a punk, or a quitter, so promptly, he spit the meds out onto that same, umm, urban nurse's uniform shirt.

Keep in mind, he told them from the gate to just give him the shot. Adults have this strange ability to think that kid's don't have their wits about them. Realistically, my kid's are a lot smarter than a healthy percentage of my adult friends.

So, out comes the needle, as a punishment I assume. He fought them a little because, like me, he doesn't appreciate unknown, overweight black woman touching him aggressively. She gave him the shot in the thigh, & he sat up & looked at the small blood spot. Without making eye contact, he said "I told you. You should've gave me the shot like I said"

I loved it. The gaggle of ladies picked up their faces from the linoleum & bid him a farewell. That, umm, urban nurse mumbled "Excuuu-uuse me".


I teach my kids to meet a challenge with a challenge. Never take the easy way out. & a couple of other cliche's that could easily be taken from any of the Karate Kid trilogy. & they listen. I tell my daughter, "You're not a follower. You're a leader. Show them the back of your shoes at all times!" Imagine my delight when I heard her tell another kid that. Smiles for the day.

I think about the many situations I've experienced that the skill he displayed in that office could've changed my life. True, I probably wouldn't be the same person with a good life, but then again, who knows what direction I might have taken. Point being, by the time we go from being those brutally honest toddlers to adults so content on living in a world of deception & self-doubt, it's too late to recapture that tenacity. Words like "no" & "I'd rather not" get overshadowed by a willingness to please all the people all the time. Why do we do this?

Because life sucks, & nobody bothered to tell us that between teaching us to tie our shoes & bless our food before we eat. Grown ups, as a whole, aren't all that smart, per se. We've just somewhat mastered the art of survival. Not a "lost in the jungle" survival, but a "Hey, whatever works." tactic that's leaves us vulnerable to the quills of reality.

Kids are smart, if only because they're ignorant to the politics of life. No guessing games, no confusion, no gimmicks. They tell it like it without being weighted down by silly emotions like guilt, jealously, envy, hate & all the ones in between.

Books are good, movies are great, but if ever there's a time that an adult needs to be re-grounded, just have a genuine conversation with a child.

You'll be surprised how much more about life they know than we give them credit for.