12/7/14

Broken Crayons Still Color

My daughter had her first heart procedure done when she was 10 months old. At her follow-up appointment a few weeks later, I asked the doctor if I should limit her play or if there was any type of special treatment I needed to give her at home. He smiled and proceeded to give me the best advice I have ever received: treat her as if nothing is wrong with her. 


That advice is easier said than done. She was my baby and I wanted to "baby" her, but the doctor was right. Her body healed. She grew a little older and nobody would ever guess she has any health problems. We did't let her health define her or limit her and she definitely didn't need to be treated any differently. That doctor taught me such a wonderful life lesson I am forever grateful for.

My daughter is now 3 years old. One day, she had an appointment with the doctor who was listening to her heart and my 5 year old son asked the doctor if he could listen too. My son heard her heartbeat and immediately turned to me and said, with a very concerned look on his face, "How come her heart is beating? I thought it was broken?" He was really worried that his little sister had something wrong with her and slowly backed away from her. I honestly didn't want to answer that question because I thought the answer would be too complicated for him to understand. However, I couldn't just ignore him so I tried explaining that even though her heart needs to be fixed that it still works and that he should still treat her as if nothing is wrong with her. He said "OK" and smiled but I was pretty sure my answer just went way over his head.


A week went by and I forgot all about that appointment. But one afternoon while the kids and I were coloring at the kitchen table, my son grabs a handful of crayons and tells me to throw them in the garbage because they were broken. I tell him no because they still color even though they are broken. He looked at me with a big smile and says "Ohhhhh, just like Taylee's heart!" He immediately put those crayons back and started using them. He was so proud of himself.


The motherhood lesson I learned that day: kids really do listen. It might have taken my son a week to process that complicated answer I gave him at the doctor's office, but he really did listen. And to think that I almost didn't have that conversation because I thought it was too complicated for him. Kids are so smart and they learn so fast. He definitely treats his sister like she is a brand new crayon and treats her as if nothing is wrong with her.

Now, I am constantly looking for those small and simple teaching moments with my kids, no matter how complicated I think the answer may be. It might take them a week, a month, or even years to grasp but they are listening and they will learn eventually. Watching your kids learn life lessons and apply them in their life is definitely one of the most rewarding parts as a parent.