Time to buck up?

If a child falls in the forest and no one is there to feel sorry for them; do they feel any pain? Three boys have taught me that the answer to this question is usually no.

This is parenting 101; compliment the kid on their tumble and they will brush it off, give them the panicked boo boo eyes and prepare yourself for a wailing toddler.

But does this strategy apply to all ages? I think it might.

My oldest son was sent home from school today with a stomach ache. I’ve actually been worried about him because this has been going on now for a couple of weeks; daily head or stomach aches. There is never a fever and he is always good after a bit of rest or a snack. It’s probably just that he is growing and not eating enough food to fuel his body; but what if it’s something else?

I’ve run the gambit of possibilities in my own mind and I’m sure my stress has stressed him out. We’ve spoken to the school counselor who is going to check on him and he has a doctor’s appointment on Friday. When I dropped him off at my parent’s house today I mentioned to my dad that I think he might have some anxiety.

“Anxiety?” My dad said incredulously, “He’s 10! What does he have to be anxious about?”

My dad is old school. He comes from an era where good mental health meant a slap on the back and a firm, “Get your shit together.”

But it’s a fair question nonetheless and one that I think I have an answer to.

If my son is feeling anxious, it’s because of me. Much like how the knee scraped toddler will feel pain if that is the expected response of the parent; I think my son is sensing my anxiety and turning it into his own. In my brief conversation with the school counselor today, she mentioned that childhood anxiety is at an all time high. Could it be that we are just stressing our kids out with our own stress about their wellbeing?

I’m not a doctor but I play one at home. It’s one of the many jobs that comes with being a parent. Of course I will still take him to see a real doctor but in the meantime I’m just going to work on keeping my shit together. It’s time to buck up.

We waste so much time worrying, and for what? All that worry just sort of piles up and clutters our brains. Sometimes the best thing to do when you fall down is just brush yourself off and keep playing. Cheer the tumbles, it’s all going to be ok.