Give Me Blood

My little boy, 6,  plays hard. He runs and jumps and tackles and…invariably…falls. Cuts and scrapes and bruises are a way of life around here. He’ll come running to find me, all alarmed and agitated. “Mommy? Mommy! I’m BLEEDING!!!”

You know…BLOOD!

The drill is always the same. Wash the wound, apply some antibiotic cream, followed by a bandage. Within minutes, the crisis has passed and he’s back outside, running and jumping and doing all those things little kids do. Sometimes he even comes running for ointment and a bandage for a bruise or a growing pain…and the second all is applied, he’s back to his normal happy self.

My daughter is another story. She’s eleven. Her scrapes and bruises are no longer of the flesh. Her aches and pains dwell beneath the surface, and they run far deeper. She’s dealing with hot-and-cold friendships and peer pressure, with cool kids and mean girls, hushed whispers and turned backs, fifth grade math and standardized tests, the looming end of (the much loved days of) elementary school and the exciting yet terrifying beginning of middle school. She’s no longer a little girl but she’s not yet a big girl. She doesn’t understand why friends she’s known and played with for years and years suddenly don’t call or include her anymore. She gets hurt when there’s no seat saved for her at the lunch table. Her heart breaks when she finds out about a party everyone was invited to, except her.

And I just feel so helpless. Sometimes she’ll come to me; other times I have to figure it out on my own. Sometimes I’ll see a post on Instagram and realize what has happened, hear something from another mom, or simply see the hurt or confusion in her eyes. And the mom in me, the mom who once cleaned and bandages her skinned knees, wants to clean and bandage those wounds, too. But it’s not that simple anymore. Because these wounds are life wounds. I can wipe away her tears and hold her close, stroke her hair. I can give her words of wisdom and tell her about similar situations I ran into when I was a kid, about friendships that went awry and how sometimes people simply grow apart. I can promise her that everything will be okay, that she and her friends will either find their way back to each other or she’ll make knew friends, better friends (which we, as adults, know is true.) But none of that takes away the sting or the devastation of the moment. None of that puts the smile back onto her face. None of that sends her bounding back out to play, like her brother with his ultra-cool Star Wars bandage on his shin.

It’s all part of growing up, I know. Perfectly natural. And being there for her, loving her, supporting her, is as important as any ointment or bandage. (It IS the ointment and the bandage.) But as I hold her close and try to absorb as much of her pain as I can, I can’t help but think…skinned knees are a whole lot easier than skinned hearts.

5 thoughts on “Give Me Blood

  1. It doesn’t matter how old our children are, when we know they have been wronged in any way, it makes the mother bear come out in us. I encountered an incident yesterday when a disgruntled jerk tried to ditz my 47-year-old professional son in his job. My son laughed about it and said it’s the type of thing that happens these days. However, my dander rose up and my mother bear fur stood up and I was ready to rumble. Of course, we can’t fight their battles for them, it doesn’t hurt to do it mentally. Helps diffuse the anger we parents feel.

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    • VERY true, Connie. Sometimes I have to really hold myself back. I start thinking…I need to call that child’s mom! Or…I’ll want to give some advice such as, “well, you just turn YOUR back the next time you see her.” But then I pull myself back and realize how childish that is, and that these are not my battles to fight. It’s especially hard when the issues revolve around children of women with whom I’m friends. I have to REALLY, REALLY separate the children’s relationships from the parents’. But sometimes that’s much easier said than done 😦

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  2. This really hit home for me, as my 12 year old really feels like the third wheel, among her outgoing friends. The other day she told me she feels like the 4th wheel, as she is always on the outside of the conversation. She said she is only 20% goofy whereas her friends are 100% goofy. Makes me sad, because I can only listen, and give her examples from our lives.

    I don’t have a boy, but my younger brother went through a lot of the same emotions, he just held them inside.

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  3. Great blog, Ellie. It also comes as a good pairing with my blog on Monday, which is about mean girls. I wish we could protect our kids from others (and themselves). It hurts our hearts as much as theirs, I think.

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  4. Things are totally different these days from when I was a kid. Back then, we only had the phone to hear about what was going on in our communities. Now we have Instagram, Facebook, texting, etc.

    So if someone is having a birthday party to which your child is not invited, it’s all there in living color, right in your face, online.

    As our kids age up in this new tech world, we’ll also see them having to deal with the pain of seeing ex-es on Facebook, etc. Back in my day, when you broke up with someone, there was a good chance you would never see that person again if you each moved on to different jobs and states. And you know what? That was a great relief!!!

    But not anymore. We can’t escape all our connections, even if we want to. We will be reminded, over and over, of every aspect of our lives because the internet will never let us forget, will never let those moments fade away…and I say that’s a darned shame.

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