Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Positive Parenting

My first child has a bit of a flair toward the dramatic. A bump on the leg becomes a broken bone that will never heal. A cut on the arm controlled by a small band aid is reported to me to be a gaping hole requiring transfusions and skin grafts.

Maybe it's just a "first child" thing. But more times than not I feel like the town's people from "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." I eye him wearily and think, If he every REALLY has a serious injury I hope I have the senses to realize it and get him medical attention, and don't end up on the news with my stunned face plastered under the heading, "Stupid Parenting Allows Boy's Death."

Said child recently participated in a a flag football tournament. I was thrilled that he volunteered to do something that required physical exertion, since that is typically not his M.O.

The first day of practice brought on a slew of aches, bumps and bruises- some real, most imagined. Day two was worse. By the time the tournament was approaching, I wondered if he might actually die an imaginary death out on the field.

He came in, dragging his right leg behind him and holding his left arm delicately.

"Mom, I don't know if I should play," he ventured.

"Hmm?" I asked.

"I don't think I should play in the tournament. I'm hurt now and I've only played with my own team. I might really break something if I play against the other kids," his eye brows were knit together in a panicked line.

"Well," I began. Then I stopped myself. I shifted in my chair and faced him head-on. "You're right."

"Huh?" he asked.

"You are right. You shouldn't play. Every time you play you have some pretty serious injuries. Remember that cut that made you bleed so much? And look at your leg. If it's broken you really shouldn't play on it. You know, now that I think of it, you should probably call Matt and tell him you have to quit the team. I really don't think it's safe."

He looked at me stunned. "What??" he asked again, incredulously.

I gave him my most concerned mom look and said with big eyes, "Honey, I would hate for something to happen to you. I mean, look how much you're hurt already... You know, I just don't know that sports are your 'thing,' you know? In fact, I wouldn't play in the tournament or even in a pick-up game. It's just too risky," I looked at him seriously and asked, "Do you think I should talk to the doctor about having you switched out of PE to something a little... safer... like maybe another Math class?"

He was so shocked, he forgot to hold his arm or drag his foot.

"Mom! You aren't supposed to say that stuff! You're a mom! Moms are supposed to say stuff like, 'No, of course you should play. Your team needs you. And you're good at sports.' What kind of advice is, 'Quit playing?' That's an awful thing to say!"

I smiled broadly at him.

Realization dawned on him. He tried to look mad at me, but couldn't help but smile.

"You stink," he mumbled, as he smiled and walked away.

Needless to say, he did, in fact play in the tournament. And he did well. He threw a couple of good passes and caught the ball for a touchdown.

I don't think he's "cured" from his hypochondriac tendencies. But it was nice to not have to deal with the drama for a little while.

And who knows? Maybe this will inspire him to branch out more, take more risks. But just in case, I'm sure he has 911 on speed dial and the medical staff at our local hospital on full alert... Bless his heart...

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