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Experienced parents still have much to learn

Posted: November 13, 2013 - 1:04am

Parenting is not for wimps.

Of course, you know that. But, in the heat of the moment, sometimes it’s nice to get a reminder. Even when you’ve been at this parenting thing for a while, there is always some new phase or development that leaves you feeling a little, well, unsure.

I sometimes wonder when I will feel like I have arrived as a parent. I’ve survived the newborn/toddler stage six times, so I’ve got that covered. But now we’re dealing with teenagers, which takes things to a whole other level. And even with that, I’m finding that each child is a teenager in his own, unique way. While there are certainly trends and similarities, it’s not much different than those years your baby turned into a little person – the personality emerges and it’s something to witness.

Certain rites of passage you do get the hang of. I’ve finally got a grip on the first day of school – for me, it’s no longer the gut-wrenching tearfest it once was (though ask me again next year when our oldest is a high school senior). We’ve finally figured out how to manage birthday parties that fit our budget and sanity; the tooth fairy has learned to arrive on time (more or less).

In family life, there are all kinds of details that you learn to manage, and you become quite pleased and assured of your abilities.

But not to worry, it won’t last long. Because waiting around every corner is always some new adventure to keep you on your toes and relying on a higher power.

Last week, we were taking a family hike when our 3-year-old daughter fell and hit her knee on a rock. Oh, how she cried!

Her knee was scraped badly, but I was more concerned that she couldn’t seem to get over it. The bleeding eventually stopped, but she was still so upset. For the rest of our hike, my husband carried her while she kept her injured leg very, very still.

We got home about an hour later and my girl was still agitated. I put her on our bed and she kept her leg very still and the whole thing made me very nervous. And, as it is with your sixth child, you assess the situation using your wit and past experience, which made me load up our daughter and head to the emergency room.

As crazy as that might sound, it made perfect sense to me at the time. Several years ago, our fifth son got knocked over by a dog at a family picnic – I witnessed the whole thing – and even though he wouldn’t stop crying, we were convinced nothing was wrong with him. We finally (after my mom insisted) took him to the emergency room and discovered he had broken his femur. He spent the next seven weeks in a body cast.

So there we sat at the emergency room, me and my daughter and my sister, and after an hour, as we waited to see the doctor, my girl suddenly declared she wanted to “get down.” She hopped off her aunt’s lap and started walking around and I firmly declared “we’re outta here!”

Lesson learned. Yet again.

This time, I realized that even with all my past experience of dealing with injuries and trips to the ER, what I also needed to keep in mind is that girls, well, they are different. And a child who is highly emotional after an injury?

Well, if it’s your daughter, wait just a little bit longer.

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