Straight Talk

July 27, 2010


Sunday we had the family over for lunch to celebrate Benjamin’s 4th birthday.  (4 Year Old post coming shortly, I promise.)

Without going into too much detail, about halfway into the party my mother-in-law began to feel “odd” and she was escorted to our bedroom to go lay down.  After a barrage of questions, the possibility of a mild or pending stroke was considered so everyone made the right decision and I called for an ambulance.  (No lights, no siren, no need to startle anyone or be the neighborhood topic of gossip.)

Everyone’s fine, just so you know. 

Later I heard a story that made me giggle and think.  I guess there was some concern that the ambulance and paramedics arriving might upset Leah or Benjamin and perhaps they should go upstairs.  My younger cousin just laughed and said, “No, I’m pretty sure Pam’s just going to talk ‘em through it.”

I laughed because she clearly knows my approach to things.  But I thought more about it because it never occurred to me to do anything differently.

On top of just being goofy, Leah is a ridiculously inquisitive and bright kid.  I’ve learned that given the right amount of well-explained information, it can really keep her from being upset and help her manage any sort of upcoming uncomfortable or even scary situation.  This was never more apparent than when her grandfather died.

Her grandmother wasn’t in any sort of distress and there wasn’t any gaping, bleeding injury or bodily fluids.  She was just resting on the bed being asked a gagillion questions.  Had I forseen any of that or, say, the use of paddles being used in a true, urgent emergency, I’d probably have made a different decision.

But in my head it was easy.  Here’s what she heard:

  1. Remember the back board you saw at the pool for emergencies when people have to remain still or need help getting into an ambulance?  You’re about to see one – or something close to it.
  2. If Gram got up she might feel weak or make things worse and we don’t want her to have to walk and maybe hurt herself.
  3. The ambulance is going to come with the folks who know how to check her out and help give her a ride down to the hospital to get checked out even further.  (She knows the hospital because she helped volunteer when I worked in fundraising at this particular one.)
  4. A stretcher is like a backboard that bends and has wheels. (She’d like to go for a ride on it.)
  5. Daddy’s going to go down there too and hang out while the doctor examines her.

That was all.  (Benjamin just wanted a piece of his Thomas the Tank Engine cake.  RIGHT NOW.)  And she was fine.

As I think back on this, Leah was exposed to some valuable information and lessons.

  • Don’t panic.  Getting overly upset keeps you from thinking clearly and asking good questions.
  • Community helpers like firemen and ambulance paramedics are kind and nice and not at all scary – even if some of them are big as a house.
  • There are members of your family that know a lot of things.  For not really being a doctor, her grandfather, Zayde, knows an awful lot and can do an awful lot – including taking someone’s blood pressure, medical history and assessing a situation. 
  • Sometimes staying out of the way and sitting quietly is the best help you can give.

I’ve never treated Leah like she was a little girl in terms of keeping her from information.  I may present the information simplistically, but very, very rarely will I try to keep her out of a situation in which she is directly involved.  So far, so good.

Benjamin was too little and way too involved in his birthday experience to notice anything.  But, I do wonder if he will be like his sister in this way.  I don’t treat him any differently than I do Leah in this regard, but every child is different.

What about you?  Do you shield your kids from information right now or involve them in some way?

I am taking part in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge.  This post is part of it.

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5 Responses to “Straight Talk”

  1. elz Says:

    We try to explain things at their level. I think people tend to underestimate what their kids can handle. I’d rather give more information than too little. Besides, if my kid knows Bernoulli’s Principle, I’m pretty sure I can tell her like it is.

  2. Knighton Says:

    You are a great mom!

  3. Jonathan Says:

    Excellent post. We don’t hide much from our children either – although we do perhaps judge how to explain to them what’s happening in terms that they will understand, and that won’t scare them too much.

    The chickens being eaten by a fox was an interesting morning, as was the cat dying… they took it on the chin though, and moved on.

    We suspect the effects crept out in the days after, but you never quite know.