Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tough Guy*

Mr. P and I were walking to the diamond where his Tee-ball practice was going to be held. The "diamond" is really just a backstop on the infield of a track. We were on that track, minding our own business, Mr. P wandering along as five year olds are wont to do. Then his amble turned into a sudden veer to the right as some whim overtook him to go that way.

Unfortunately, that veer took him right into the path of a nine year old on a bicycle. Going much too fast for a track with people walking on it.

I watched it all in that famous slo-mo where your mouth opens to scream, but it all happens too quickly for you to actually do anything other than scream. I think I scared the crap out of the kid on the bike, actually.

And before I knew it, five year old, nine year old and nine year old's bike were in the dirt. With the five year old on the bottom.

That bike hit him really hard, pushing him forward and down, with the wheel making impact on his right hip.

I pulled the nine and the bike off, probably a bit too roughly, but I was pissed. I was worried.

Mr. P's face was tore up pretty good. Unbeknownst to me, so were his left leg and arm, which were hidden underneath his clothes. Multiple bruises would also pop up later.

There were tears in his eyes, but none coming down his face.

Kneeling in the dirt, almost sobbing with fear and relief, I checked him over. I told him that if he didn't want to practice, it was ok. If he was sore and wanted to go home and clean up, that was fine. If he was scared and upset, as I was, it was ok to cry.

No Mom, I'm fine.

Tears still in the eyes, but not down the face.

The coach had also seen the drama unfold and also checked him for injuries. He told him he could sit down for a while until he felt like practicing.

No coach, I'm fine.

Tears had yet to make it down the face. And nor would they at any point during practice, despite the pain he must have been in.

A couple of practices later, the coach told me how impressed he was with what a tough little guy I had. He couldn't believe that he didn't cry after getting whomped like that with the bike.

And through this conversation, though I nodded and agreed on the toughness, all I could think of was a conversation I had with the Munchkin on the first day of practice. How I had told my sometimes overly emotional son to not cry at Tee-ball. I was afraid that the other boys would sense weakness and pick on him, and I wanted to protect him from that. My sensitive, perfectionist boy, I knew that he would get upset at himself if he didn't throw or hit properly, and so I was attempting to teach him how to deal with disappointment without tears.

As the coach told me how proud I should be of my son who didn't cry, my heart broke a little.

I should have known that my son would listen to my instructions and think that to cry would be to disappoint me. That even in pain, he would remember my admonition.

And I hate myself. More than just a little.

*This was posted elsewhere, but I thought I would share it here as well.


Anvilcloud said...

Aw Gina, your advice was good, but the circumstances weren't. It's okay; you've both lived to tell of it.

Maternal Mirth said...

Oh, Gina. You are an amazing mommy! A tough guy* isn't a bad thing and it is (sad as it is) "REAL LIFE". Sometimes, you have to be tough even when you want to cry. And Mr. P, as young as he is, knows it. Because you taught him.

I have one of those "sensitive boys" and yes, the older they get the other males DO sense weakness. Again, sad and slightly frustrating, but "REAL LIFE".

:) HUGS! (cuz you sound like you need one)


Autumn's Mom said...

aww Mama. It's so darn hard being a parent. We second guess everything we do. You are a great mom, and Mr. P is a great kid. There are still tears that will be shed, and probably more from you than him :) hugs

J at said...

I think you could use this as an opportunity to sit down and talk to him about it...tell him that if he cries, you're OK with it, and all of that. Tell him you were worried that he might think you would be disappointed in him if he cried, but that you wouldn't be.

And it's entirely possible that he's outgrowing the crying thing all on his own. Which is sad in its own way.

Family Adventure said...

Ouch. I know where you are coming from on this. I have a very sensitive boy, too, and I've tried to discourage him from crying in public because I did not want him made fun of.

Then something like this happens, and it all comes back to you. How you are the worst mother in the world. And yet, in truth, we were just trying to protect our children.

Parenting is so hard.


chichimama said...

Oh, Gina, so hard for you and so hard for him. But you are doing a great job. The whole "when is it appropriate to cry" thing is a hard one to teach. We are having similar issues around here.