In Praise of Wisdom Beyond Years
From the moment she first saw me, and gave me a look as if to say, “Who the heck are you?” I knew that I had brought a fierce female into the world. This tiny creature with pale skin, dark eyes, enviously long eyelashes and a head full of black straight hair was born with attitude and so far, she has continued to live up to this first impression. She is the classic precocious second child. But of all of her accomplishments in her young life to date, none have impressed me more than the wisdom and courage she demonstrated this past summer.
My daughter had been stung by either a bee or a wasp while out playing in the park with her nanny and friends. I learned about the incident at the end of the day, but as there was no visible sign of a sting, her nanny believed that my daughter was distressed out of fear not because she was actually stung. By the following morning, the swelling between her eyes which transformed my daughter’s face into Cymba’s twin, indicated that she had indeed been stung by something.
A few days later, my daughter and her nanny returned to the same park to play. Not surprisingly, returning to the scene of the painful incident triggered her fear response and my daughter insisted that her nanny hold her the entire time.
(Now, I know what you’re thinking – this kid isn’t sounding too fierce at the moment. Just bear with me… it gets better).
I responded to the latest news of her fear of bees by sitting and talking to my daughter about the source of her fear, and expressing empathy for why she would be afraid to return to the same park where she was hurt. I also talked to her about the downside of allowing fear of what might happen get in the way of her ability to have fun with her friends in the park, the same park where she has played so many times without ever getting stung. I didn’t appreciate the impact of this brief conversation until a few hours later after I returned from a speaking engagement and learned about her very unusual request.
While I was gone, my daughter asked my husband to turn on our gas fireplace. The first and last time she had seen the fireplace lit several months ago, she screamed hysterically like an accused witch in Salem about to be burned at the stake, and was inconsolable for at least an hour afterwards. Moreover, for several weeks following this incident, my daughter spoke daily about her scare with the fireplace and made every effort to keep her distance from it.
Just a couple of hours after talking to her about the importance of not allowing fear to rob her of having fun at the park, this child asked to see the very thing that terrified her months previously. She was only 2.5 years old. Astounding.
Clearly, some aspect of my talk must have resonated, and the only way that could have happened is if she was able to appreciate the truth in what I was saying. Her courage to essentially say “bring it on” with such determination and calm, well that just absolutely blows my mind.
This story will forever serve as a reminder to me to never underestimate the wisdom contained within all of us, particularly our children. My hope for myself as her parent is that I always respect my daughter for the unique individual she is, forever connected to me but separate from myself. And that I appreciate the importance of being her student as much as her teacher for how to live with courage and to trust one’s inner wisdom.
You go girl!
Much love and respect,
Mom (aka Dr. Stacy)