I’ve learned a thing or two about small-scale bravery these last few weeks. My morning wake-up call is a bag of frozen peas to the belly, a swab of alcohol, a syringe and a prick. I do my best to take the burning in stride, but I’m not ashamed to admit there have been more than a few mornings of tears.
But the evening shot experience is a bit different. It’s a family affair. Mary at my forehead, stroking my hair, “be ‘bwave’, mommy”; Emma sitting at my side holding my hand, sympathetically mirroring my grimaces and contortions while the burning medicine slides in under my skin.
Suddenly, in a moment, the roles have changed. I’m the child being coaxed into bravery and calm by my children who clench their teeth alongside me and whisper encouraging words in my ear. They’ve watched these shots so closely that they can reenact every step of the process. In fact, they act it out together on occasion: Mary with a mock bag of peas on her belly, emma with her swab of alcohol. Pinch, blow. One, two three, prick. Hold it. Hold it. Great job. Ice again.
These shots suck. There’s no way around it. But in some odd way, having my children gathered around me, being brave and strong for me, makes it all worthwhile. If given the opportunity, I don’t think I’d trade in the shots and risk losing these moments.
I’m not always sure what my girls are learning from this. Perhaps, that their mommy is a weakling, or that she cries a lot or makes funny noises when she’s in pain.
But I hope that I’m teaching them how to be brave in the midst of a little discomfort. And even more so, I’m proud that they are learning the all-important art of comforting. They are fantastic at it. There is something precious about being comforted by your children. A fragile moment where you just want to hold your breath and hope it doesn’t slip away too quickly.
The picture above, although blurry and taken in unnatural light is my view during these moments: a strong little hand to hold, a bag of peas under a dishtowel, and a smiley face sticker awarded to me for a job well done.
And I still don’t know who’s braver—me or them.