Finding the healing power of bandaids

I wouldn’t say that I lie to my kids. But I would be lying if I said that I don’t stretch the truth. Sure, you can judge me and drop your jaw incredulously, but we all do it. Sometimes it takes a little white lie to make everything in their world better. It starts pretty simply – “Here, let mommy kiss that boo-boo and make it all better.” Then it escalates a bit – “This is special fairy potion that I will spray in your room to keep the monsters away.” (Yeah, it’s water with a drop of lavender oil in it.)silly girls copy

In general, I do think it’s important to be honest with my children, as it plays an important role in teaching them right from wrong. But sometimes a stretch of the truth is easier and more effective than the hard facts. The perfect example of this: Band-Aids.

My kids fully believe in the healing power of Band-Aids. Maybe that’s because I’ve told them over and over again that a Band-Aid will make their boo-boo all better. They don’t need to know that a Band-Aid actually has no healing power whatsoever, and actually a Band-Aid causes more pain when we have to take it off. Nope, those facts are better left unsaid. If one of them gets a boo-boo, no matter how big or how small, all it takes is me asking them “Do you want a Band-Aid?” and suddenly their world that had become overrun by tears and devastation is righted. More often than not, they wear it for about 30 seconds and then suddenly whatever boo-boo they had is all better.

Of course, this is not a cheap habit since no kid wants the plain and boring beige colored Band-Aid. No, we have to have Jake and the Neverland Pirates Band-Aids. And, when those are not available, good ol’ stand-ins like Doc McStuffins or Dora or the occasional princess themed ones will have to do.

But the truth is that if all it takes is a Band-Aid to make my kids’ pain go away, I’ll take it. And, I’ll continue to stretch that truth as long as it works because there will definitely come a time when healing my kids wounds will take much more than a brightly colored bandage. Raising two girls already makes me aware that the “mean girl” stage is bound to come into play sooner or later. And, while I would never wish them to be the subject of a mean girl’s tormenting, I also can’t stand the idea that they could become mean girls themselves. Sometimes my older daughter comes running to me at the park to tell me about another girl who was mean to her on the slide. We talk about what it means to be a good friend and treating other people the way that we want to be treated, and about making sure that even if somebody is mean to us that we still show respect to them.

I know there will come a day that they will go running to their friends for help instead of asking me and I can only hope that at that point I’ve prepare them well. I can only hope that the Band-Aids of today become the teaching tools of tomorrow because when that day comes, it won’t be as easy as kissing the boo-boo and sticking a Band-Aid on it to make it all better…though a mom certainly can dream.

Finding my own bias… and overcoming it

When I was a little girl, I told my parents I wanted to be a veterinarian for kittens. Not any other type of animal. Not even grown cats. Just kittens. As a young girl, I dreamed of doing just that. Of course, as I got older, my aspirations changed and I started following a path toward medicine, public health, social advocacy, and so on. Now I work for a summer camp overseeing the customer service, family relations, and communications – a path I never could have predicted but greatly enjoy.

princess in jerseyA few weeks ago, I asked my three year old what she wanted to be when she grows up, thinking she’d tell me she wanted to be a firefighter, an astronaut, or any one of the other professions little kids seem to say when asked. Instead, she told me that when she grows up she wants to be “a mommy.” My first inclination was to cringe – was I not doing something right that my daughter wasn’t aspiring to be a doctor or superhero or any other world-changing type of profession? Then it made me sad that I cringed at this – what a wonderful aspiration to want to be a mom. It is the most selfless and rewarding (and exhausting) job I know. She wants to care for others, take care of others, and put their needs in front of her own.

As I came to terms with my own bias and her aspirations, I decided to ask her again a few days later “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was hoping to redeem myself and react perfectly (one can dream, right?). So I asked her. And she responded to me “a princess.”

Yep, I cringed again. That’s what a hashtagger would call #parentingfail. As a mom of two little girls, I’ve avoided the princess world like the plague. I don’t believe in little girls wearing only pink and purple (though my daughters choose those colors every time). I don’t believe in the idea of the maiden in distress needing to be rescued by her prince. And, I definitely don’t buy into society’s collective belief that girls are princesses and boys are superheroes, sports stars, etc. etc. etc. When we talk about princesses in our house, I tell my girls that princesses are just girls with crowns on.

So, when my older one’s aspirations changed from being a mommy to being a princess, not only did my internal battle over the past few weeks rear its ugly head but also one of my parenting philosophies and principles got thrown into the mix too. Again, I grappled with my own bias – why did I cringe? And what difference does it make what a three year old says she wants to be later in life? As I continue to look inward at my beliefs, philosophies, and parenting practices, I try to remind myself that at this age, it’s about exploration, imagination, discovery and growth. Too often we are looking so far ahead at the future we miss what’s right in front of kit

So, I decided to ask my daughter the same question, one more time, and promised myself that no matter what she said, my answer would be anything other than a cringe.

“Honey, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to be a doctor… for stuffed animals. Just like Doc McStuffins.”

And with a big smile, I gave her a hug and said “Okay, let’s go get your doctor kit because ‘purple bear’ has a belly ache.”