Tuesday, July 13, 2023

Kids Need Discipline to Be Courageous

I've been doing a lot of thinking this weekend - actually, a lot of thinking about courage since the boys went rappelling. (Oh - Dad, I spelled it right this time!)

So, with that on my mind, I finally made the connection. Kids can't be courageous if they aren't disciplined.

Let me share with you proof.

I've been in Seattle for the last four days with my daughter Maegan at Children's Hospital. She just turned 3 years old; but when she was 1 1/2 years old, she had major cranial surgery. She was born with one of the suture lines in her skull closed and her head was growing contorted. That's a long story in and of itself.

Anyway, we were just there for a checkup and CT scan to make sure her skull is growing okay.

Since she's 3 years old, anesthesia was ordered for the scan. So, of course, that meant no eating after 6:30 a.m., clear fluids until 10:30 a.m., and then nothing until after the 1p.m. scan.

We were in a hotel in Bellevue and I had gotten some cereal bars at the 7-11 and had her eat two at 2 a.m. (since we had just arrived on our flight and I knew that once she fell asleep there would be no waking her up at 6 a.m. to get a quick bite).

I picked up the left-overs and extra food and put everything out of sight so it would be easier for her when we woke up.

Or, at least I thought I had picked it all up.

Everything went smoothly, we were packed up ready to drive to the hospital, Maegan holding the bag I gave her with a container of cinnamon graham crackers that she could have as soon as her CT scan was finished.

I picked up my purse and cell phone and scanned the directions to the hospital. Then I turned around to take Maegan's hand - just in time to see her chewing!

I screamed and she jumped.

I pulled the food out of her mouth and asked her if she swallowed any.

Wide-eyed, she shook her head "yes."

Apparently, a piece of cereal bar was in the bag I gave her; and seeing food, she naturally put it in her mouth. Can't blame her, poor thing.

So, we went to the hospital and when the nurse asked when the last time she ate, I told her about the small bite. I didn't think it was a big deal, but apparently it was. My options were: 1) Wait six hours and do the scan, 2)Cancel and reschedule, 3)Feed her and hope a warm blanket and full tummy would make her fall asleep, 4)Go ahead and try the scan.

Well, they wanted me to feed her and try to get her to sleep; but there was nooooo way she was going to fall asleep voluntarily in that hospital. I said that she could lay still for the scan if I could be right next to her.

The staff wasn't so sure. They told me all she had to do.

I said she could do it.

Finally, they agreed to try (which I'm sure they really didn't want to have a failed one due to costs - but there was no way I was gonna make a 2nd trip down from Alaska or make her go hungry for another 6 hours)

We went into the room and we showed her the big donut machine. They had it all covered in a mosaic of stickers. We told her how she would lay on the table and go into the donut to get pictures taken.

She started to cry.

She was scared and she had every right to be. The technician stepped out for a minute while I talked to her and told her that it wouldn't hurt, that she could do it, and that mommy would be right there with her.

She still cried.

After I let her cry for a minute - because it was okay for her to be scared and natural for her to cry - I told her that it was time to stop crying and get this done so she could have her snack.

She obeyed.

We wiped her face and laid her down on the narrow table.

They moved the table back and forth to show her how it would move.

The technician wrapped a towel around her head and told her it was to help remind her not to move her head.

The whole time her eyes were locked on mine. Wide. Moist. I did not break the gaze.

I kept re-assuring her, holding her hands as the table moved back and forth, working it's way into the machine.

Then the tech put the strap on her forehead that was another reminder for her to hold her head still.

The machine started up and made a noise that I thought was terrifying. I told her it was okay and explained what was happening. That she was going to lay there and be still and mommy was going to right there with her.

Then came the time for the 10 second scan that she couldn't move her mouth of anything. They gave me a toy to hold in one hand. It had a button that made the toy spin with all kinds of blinking lights. I told her that when mommy turned the toy on, that she was not to move - not even her mouth.

And you know what? She did it!

She held perfectly still the whole time, her gaze locked with mine, her hands tightly in mine.

When she was done, she was so proud of herself and all the compliments she got - and especially the special stuffed lamb they gave her.

She had been extremely courageous.

In fact, she radiated the same fresh confidence that I told you was evident when Nathan did the rappelling.

But it didn't hit me then.

We walked out of the area, Maegan waving over her shoulder, calling, "Good-bye everybody."

We walked back into the hallway where there was a separate waiting area for satellite scanning - I have no idea what that is.

And there was this poor family. A husband, wife, daughter, and a little boy. The little boy was probably just under 2 years old. He would walk away and when his mother told him to come back he snarled, "NO!" And when she reached for him, he started screaming at the top of his lungs. And he kicked and fought while she carried him back. His Mom gave me a friendly smile as we walked by. Apparently she was one of those that found this type of behavior acceptable.

I thought, "It's a good thing that boy doesn't have to do what Maegan just did because it would never happen."

Maybe the "Ahhhhhh" light is going off in your head now.

If Maegan hadn't of been disciplined - if she wasn't taught that obedience is the only option - then she wouldn't have gotten her scan done.

People wonder why their child doesn't comply when they are exposed to something new or scary. For some reason, they think it is supposed to be some type of instantaneous, spontaneous character quality that a child has or doesn't.

But it's not that way.

Maegan has been consistently and lovingly disciplined to obey and to trust. Since she has learned to do that in the everyday little things, it was no different for something big.

She was secure in following my instructions and doing what she was told.

And as a result, she experienced what it is like to be courageous - doing something even though she was scared.


Anonymous said...

I so agree with this and have proof in my own home!
my 7 & 6yo DDs were not made to obey as much as my 2yo. When reading your story I was thinking that I would never be able to get the 7 & 6yo to do that test but I know the 2yo could do it. I think it starts early in life, my 2yo was the only one I had on a schedule when she was an infant. and she has always been more obedient and more scure in her self than the others.

Thanks for the reminder, to stay diligent in this area! I can see now where I have been getting slack in different areas.


11:52 AM  

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