There is one childhood memory of mine that stands out pretty clearly in my mind. I was about 5 years old and my older sister, who was 8 at the time, had a family friend’s son over for a visit.
The two of them were in my sister’s room playing and I thought it would be funny if I went in and sang the infamous kid song “Jennifer and Richard sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes Jenny Jr. in the baby carriage.” My tomboy sister did not like that one bit so she and her friend chased me out of the house, onto our bicycles, and up the street to the park (this was the 70s when children were allowed to roam free helmet-less on their bikes).
I was a fast bicyclist and made it to the park before Jennifer did. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do when I got there, but whatever it was didn’t go quite as planned. I made a sharp turn into the park and fell right into a Pricker Bush – you know that plant with the sharp thorns on them. What made matters worse is that I fell right in front of the boy that I had a serious crush on. I was so embarrassed and afraid at what my sister was going to do when she caught up to me.
Although my sister was a tomboy back then, she was always extremely protective of me. She would beat kids up if they even looked at me funny. Once in middle school, a girl “dumped” my books. My sister saw it and chased the girl down the hall, down the stairs, and pushed her. So, when my sister saw me in the Pricker Bush, she jumped off her bike, raced towards me, and helped me home without giving a second thought as to what I did to her to get there in the first place.
When I got home, it was another story from my mother. As she was pulling out the thorns and bandaging me she yelled at me about how I shouldn’t have teased Jennifer. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t yelling at Jennifer for chasing me. I was mad too that instead of consoling me like a mother should, she was yelling at me instead. For years I’ve carried this with me.
Fast forward, 35, ahem, 25 years and having twins and now I understand why my mother was yelling at me. It is so easy when our children get hurt from doing something that they shouldn’t have done to first yell at them, and then console.
I have tried my hardest to always do the opposite and console my injured twin before trying to correct their behavior for whatever it was that they did. It’s hard though, I’ll be honest. Emotions are high and motherhood protection runs deep.
Just the other day my son was jumping around doing his boy thing when he slipped and fell. I’ve told him countless times not to dance around in socks because the floor is slippery, but sure enough he fell and mildly hurt his arm. It was my first instinct to pull an “I told you so” for not listening to me, but my mind gave me a glimpse of that fateful day years earlier and I gave him a hug instead. Maybe he’ll remember that as he grows up.
What do you do first when your child gets injured doing something that they shouldn’t be doing? Do you console or discipline first?