I wrote this about four years ago, but it was a good lesson for me to re-learn today.
“We could do it right now. We have an opening.”
I had just endured a good half hour struggling with my screaming toddler while the doctor poked her ears, prodded her tummy and punctured her skin. (Her memory is now long enough that she is primed to scream the moment the poor guy walks in the door.) My preschooler was very cool throughout the whole ordeal because I assured her about fifty times that this was an appointment for her little sister and she would most definitely not be getting any shots today. She did a marvelous job of comforting her sister (probably because she knew she was in the safety zone).
Right when I was just starting to breath easy again, the receptionist informed me they were booked through the summer and if I wanted to do my preschooler’s kindergarten shots there was a convenient and unexpected opening right now. Gulp.
Glancing over my shoulder, I spied my preschooler playing oh, so happily with the waiting room toys. (The doctor’s office is such a fun place if you aren’t getting shots!) In a flash of desperate inspiration I pushed forward with the adrenaline rush I already had going from the baby’s appointment. I tried the old Jedi mind trick. “Elizabeth, guess what? It’s your lucky day! How would you like to get four stickers, an ice cream cone before lunch and be able to go to school tomorrow and tell your friends that you already got your kindergarten shots? Instead of waiting all summer long and worrying about it, Dr. Nish can do it today! Isn’t that great?” The staff and I all held our breath collectively. “Okay!” Elizabeth bubbled. The receptionist mumbled under her breath, “You’re hired!”
Elizabeth had fun doing the eye test and telling Dr. Nish all about her preschool, but as expected there was considerable thrashing and screaming when it came time for the shots. In these moments I always defer to the wisdom found in one of my favorite childhood stories, Curious George Goes to the Hospital. “It’s going to hurt, George,” she said, “but only for a moment.” She took his arm, and George let out a scream. “But the needle hasn’t touched you yet,” said the nurse, laughing. “There – now it’s done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” No, it really was not. And anyway, it was over now.
Within minutes we were sitting in a Baskin Robbins and Elizabeth was enjoying her first ever Rocky Road ice cream cone. With chocolate covering the entire lower half of her head, she carefully examined her battle scar under the Snoopy Band Aid. “I’m so lucky,” she kept saying over and over again, “Today really is my lucky day.”
At that moment I realized very acutely just how much influence I have on my children. The way they view the world and decide how to respond to it is largely learned from little old me. That is a power both intimidating and motivating. If I’m thoughtful, I will teach them to think of every day as their “lucky day”.
I know that kind of influence starts between my own two ears. How different would my own daily outlook be if I changed the “self talk” in my head to sound more like the mom that speaks to my children? How many times have I had a perfectly wonderful day planned out only to recieve some unexpected “shots”? Do I scream and cry about it (getting me nowhere) or do I see the “lucky” benefits of unexpected challenges and move forward with bravery and enthusiasm like my little girl?
In the end, I felt like I was the one who had the lucky day. Not only did I get ice cream before lunch (who could resist that?), but I learned yet another important lesson from the little people in my life.
QUESTION: What kind of message are you sending to yourself and to your children when “lucky” things come your way throughout the day?
CHALLENGE: The next time you have a “lucky” day, try to see things with a different perspective and turn it around for you and your child.