Friday, July 1, 2011

i am not a bad parent - or am i?

Something has been bothering me lately. It was recently brought to my attention that perhaps my suck-it-up style of parenting could actually be bad. I thought I was providing them a sense of real world and independence but apparently there is something to be said for compassion. Now, I think I can be compassionate. I just don't think that it does my kids any favors to shelter them from the real world.

What do I mean by this? Well, for example, if one of the boys wakes up with a cold (and I mean really just a cold), I assess and will often send him to school. There are many days when a person might not feel well but life has to continue. Please know though that I am not heartless. The primary gauge of stay home or not is if he is running a fever. Fever means no school. There are also times when it is plainly obvious that, fever or not, he's just too sick to go and I will keep him home on those days too. But in general, my philosophy is life will be full of aches and pains and you just have to learn to deal with them.

This brings me to Henry's toe. Henry is seven and last Fall he complained that his big toe hurt. I took a peek at it and, sure enough, it was red and swollen and looked like he broke it. Now I've had about five or six broken toes, even played the second half of a soccer game with my big toe broken. I know from past experience there's really nothing you or a doctor can do about it. It will heal and might be slightly more crooked, but that's about it. Knowing this, I did not bother taking him to see the doctor. He never really complained about it. He went all through ski season with no issues. I figured it was history.

Fast forward to Spring. And buying new shoes. And measuring his feet for new shoes. Much to my surprise and dismay Henry's broken toe foot measured a full half inch shorter than his other. My guilt rose to my cheeks, my face flush with regret. I am well known for thinking the worst possible scenario and started obsessing that my neglect has somehow caused him to be permanently damaged. Maybe it was a break on the growth plate. Would he need surgery to re-break it?

So I did what every normal mother would do - I avoided. I didn't call the doctor. I didn't do anything except dwell in my guilt. But, as luck would have it, I had to take in Danny for his physical before camp and Henry was with me. Luckily I remembered the toe when I was in her office and asked her to take a look. She did and more importantly, she didn't judge. She simply wrote me a referral to the ortho guy.

So today we went and got an x-ray and saw the orthopedic surgeon and the verdict is in. He does not have a broken toe but the interesting thing is he never did! What he has is an extra bone in his foot. I saw it right on the screen (x-rays are all digital nowadays). The surgeon laughed. I sighed with relief although there is still a nagging in my head that maybe I should have done better.

Am I too harsh with the kids with the suck-it-up style parenting? Am I too harsh on myself or should I receive failing marks for my avoidance here?
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