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Backwards and inside out
June 8, 2009
by Jen Bakken

The other day while my eight-year-old sat on the couch, she touched a spot on her right calf, crinkled up her face, and whimpered.

I was watching from a distance trying to figure out what she was doing.

Again, she used her index finger to push on her leg, scrunched up her nose, and whined.

She repeated this multiple times before she said, “Mommy, it hurts when I do this.”

Of course I gave her the usual parental response, “Well, don’t do that then.”

There wasn’t a visible mark or bruise and clearly she wasn’t badly injured or in terrible pain, but my response didn’t help, in fact – she stomped off to her room yelling, “I hate it when you say that, you don’t even care!”

This caused me to wonder if I am becoming insensitive or dispassionate as I get older. There is no question as to whether or not I care, but I guess I did seem unsympathetic.

When my first born was little, I always worried about any bump or “owie” he had.

If he was hurt, I would usually run and be at his side before he could even shed a tear.

Many times he was rushed to the doctor for the slightest sniffle or cough by this worrisome mother.

Now, with my third child, it seems there has to be a bit more to concern me.

This is also true with what clothing my children wear. I used to think my oldest absolutely had to match.

From his shirt, to his pants, socks, and even shoes, I would pick out his school clothes the night before and lay them out for him.

His hair was always in place, and it was important to me that he looked cute whenever he left the house.

Over the years, after adding two more children to the family, the need to ensure they looked well put-together faded.

Now, my children may go to school with their hair sticking up, mismatching socks, or a big hole in the knee of their pants.

I used to think my children were a direct reflection of who I am, and maybe they are to an extent, but I’m not perfect so I can’t expect them to be.

Does this make me a lazy parent? I’m not sure, but they are loved, they are happy, and to me that is what matters.

Sometimes we, as parents, have to relax, rather than stress out about every little thing. Sometimes, we just have to pick our battles.

Years ago, I was shopping at Walmart. With a crabby baby in the cart, an active seven year old and bored ten-year-old walking beside me – it was a typical hectic shopping trip.

All of the sudden, my three-year-old began screaming at the top of his lungs, causing a scene.

In our shopping chaos, I had run over his foot with the shopping cart.

Knowing my son usually had a very loud over-reaction to the slightest little pain, I knew he was not seriously hurt.

I knelt down, looked at his foot and said, “How bad is it, do you think we need to cut it off?” Of course, my son laughed.

Out of nowhere, a lady behind me told me I shouldn’t have said that to my son. She said it was inappropriate, if not cruel, and I could be reported to child protection.

I turned to face her, while I laughed out loud, and responded, “Are you serious? Send them over, I’ll even give you my address.”

I was trying to make my son laugh and forget about his owie. Maybe it wasn’t the best tactic to use, but it worked.

I noticed this lady had one child with her. They both matched, and they looked perfect.

My children and I were a completely different story. The baby had spit up all over herself, and the 10-year-old had two different color socks on and serious hair issues.

The seven-year-old, laying on the floor after his shopping cart accident, still had pizza on his face left over from lunch.

Then there was me – my shirt was not only on backwards but it was inside out.

Though I was a little embarrassed, I hoped that one day this lady will find herself in my shoes, joking away owies, shrugging off mismatching outfits, and picking her battles – and possibly wearing her shirt backwards and inside out.