Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A for Apathy

My 3 year old has only two speeds: annoyingly slow and out-of-control fast. I'm actually not sure the kid knows how to just walk; he's either doing a geriatric shuffle or he's running wild. Today I had the pleasure of having my 3 year old accompany me to a last minute doctor's appointment. When we were leaving the exam room, my 3 year old came wildly running through the waiting room, caught his foot on a chair leg, went airborne, flipped, and rolled at least three times across the floor. When his momentum was finally stopped by an end table filled with magazines, he was stunned for a second and didn't move. I witnessed the whole event and started to walk calmly towards him through the crowd of waiting room gasps. When I looked up, all eyes were on him. Everyone was focused on my 3 year old on the floor and clearly very shocked - everyone except me.

Yes, I was on my way to help him up and make sure he was okay. But really, this was not a shocking event. He wasn't even crying. Within a few seconds he was making his way back up on his feet and was half-way standing before I even crossed the room to him. I brushed him off and said, "You okay? Let's go." An older woman sitting in the middle of his trajectory was not okay with my apparent apathy. She asked me three times, to the same answer of "Yes", if he was okay and wanted to get him an ice bag. But this accident was nothing new to me. I'm a mother of boys; my kids spend more time tripping and falling than they do walking.

As far as Type A personalities go, I've always been an A+, but my kids have mellowed me in certain respects. I have seen enough near disasters to now have a certain sense of apathy when I see them go down. Its not that I lack concern for them or their safety, but I am now pretty indifferent to the acts of them hurting themselves. I learned to suppress my horror when my first born was learning to crawl and started a collection of bruises across his forehead from bumping into furniture and doorjambs. That was just the start and the start of my detachment. I've seen them get kicked in the head by swings, trip into cement steps with their face, fall off bikes and scooters, fall down a full flight of stairs head-over-heels, and hop into the granite counter with their head. Sure, we've had a couple of trips to the ER, but for the most part my kids usually just pop back up and keep going. My 3 year old goes down so often, that we've become accustomed to shouting out "Man down". And 9 times out of 10 there are no tears. He trips, he gets up, and he keeps going. There's no time for or point in me getting upset; within seconds he's forgotten he ever was on the ground.

I've had other moms tell me that I'm "so calm". Maybe. Calm, apathetic, whatever you want to call it, I guess I am. The thing is, I can't stop them from being the way they are. They play hard and they fall often. I say "careful" a million times, I keep them out of dangerous situations, and I keep my hands on them when I should, but some of the worst falls have happened while they were standing right next to me, standing still. Sometimes they just fall out of nowhere; they trip on themselves. Apathy is my defense from going insane with worry about these everyday occurrences. I could make myself very sick thinking of all the ways they could hurt themselves in their lives. For just a brief second imagine two crazy boys in high school or college and you'll see where I'm coming from. So, I disengage and try to keep going. They fall, I pick them up, brush them off, and say "let's go". And we keep going.

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