One of the biggest fears we have as parents is watching our children get hurt. Whether it’s physically or emotionally. It’s difficult to see our children push boundaries when we know it will directly affect them.
Trace is nine years old. Born with disabilities that include: Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder, it’s been a long road of medical visits, physio-therapy, speech and language and more through the past nine years. Watching him grow and flourish has been one of the greatest joys of my life. He’s come so far.
This past week Trace was outside when he saw several of his friends rollerblading. When one of his friends offered for him to try his blades, Trace instantly wanted to do it (of course).
My immediate reaction was “No!” he can’t do it. His legs don’t work properly. He’s going to fall and hurt himself. He’s going to feel bad when he can’t meet his goals. I need to protect him. I mean that’s my job as his mother. Isn’t it?
I quieted the fearful voices in my head basically ignoring them, and instead helped my son put on a pair of shoes with wheels for a kid that has no balance, and encouraged him to give it a try. Despite my fears, I know as a special needs mom the importance of pushing your child’s boundaries.
So there we were – me holding Trace upright because his legs beneath him were on spinning circles. He had no grip, no balance, and immediately he fell. I waited for his reaction. He didn’t cry. He got angry, but got back up and tried it again.
After a few days of blading, holding on to the walls around the complex and friends helping. Trace seemed to be doing okay. He was having fun. The look on his face enjoying this new skill he had learned was beyond priceless. My heart swelled watching him as his legs pushed outside their comfort zone. And sure he fell a few times, but that didn’t stop him. I never expected it too.
Yesterday while working online, I heard a loud scream. I knew it was Trace. He was hurt and I immediately ran outside to see what happened. There he was on the ground surrounded by friends who said he took a big tumble while on his blades. Yes, HIS blades because during the week I had gotten him a pair, buying them from our neighbor next door.
Trace was lying on the ground screaming and my heart sank. “Mommy I hurt myself bad,” he told me holding his knees. It took a few minutes to calm him down enough so I could take a look. He finally moved his fingers and all I saw was blood.
Trace had scabbed up his knee pretty good. He’d taken the skin right off, and it was painful. I managed to get him back to the house and upstairs where I grabbed our first aid kit and sat him on the bed so I could assess the damage. With tears in his eyes, dirt-smudged cheeks, Trace looked at me.
“You aren’t going to let me roller blade anymore are you?” He asked quietly.
“Why do you say that?” I responded. Though I was thinking it in my head. He got hurt. I wanted to protect him. He’d been through so much in his life. I couldn’t understand why when he knew his legs didn’t work right he wanted to pursue something like this only to hurt himself further.
“I see it on your face,” Trace said. “You got that look.”
That look? I raised my eyebrows at him. Both my boys know I’m not good at hiding my feelings. Always wearing them on my sleeve, it’s easy for them to tell what I’m thinking. I also saw the look in Trace’s eyes. He looked sad, but not because he got hurt. He looked sad because he thought I was going to stop him from doing something he loved.
“No,” I said. “I’m not going to stop you from rollerblading,” I told him. Sheer joy punctured his cheeks. We cleaned up his knee and Trace went back outside to blade with his other friends.
I sat at the kitchen window watching my darling son smile and laugh as he whizzed passed people on his wheels. The joy and elation on his face more than my heart could stand. I realized the importance of teaching our children not to give up when things go wrong. The importance of failing but trying again, and having a parent who understands that concept to give the confidence a child needs to keep going.
I won’t lie to you. I’m scared every day he gets on his blades. Scared he will fall. Scared he will hit his head. Scared a car will smack him because he’s not paying attention. But I also realize that no matter how scared I am — this is his life to live. Not mine. This is his time to explore and experiment and push himself so he can discover all that he is truly capable of. And it’s my job to sit back, watch, clean up the cuts and bruises while I hold my breath and smile always telling him to keep going because he can do anything he puts his mind to.
Nobody said parenting was easy…