Thursday, September 5, 2013


A couple of weeks ago we were at our family cottage playing in the yard. It was a beautiful, sunny day with perfect weather. We had all played in the lake, got super dirty in the sandbox, balanced on the edges around the sandbox, layed on a blanket and giggled, tossed bean bags and were having an amazing day. Bella wanted to play "tennis". Which basically meant tossing around a waffle ball and hitting it with tennis rackets that were hanging around. I tossed up the ball and lightly hit it with the racket. Bella was standing across the yard waiting for the ball to come her way. She tried to hit it and missed. We both giggled and then she looked at me. I could tell by her face that she was stewing, the wheels in her brain quickly turning. 

"MOM, I can't hit it like you!" She said sounding frustrated and a bit sassy.

"What do you mean you can't hit it like me?"

"I can't throw the ball like that and hit it too."

"Sure you can! It takes practice, lots of practice. Sometimes I throw the ball up and I miss it and it falls on the ground. Then I try again until I get it."

"No, Mom. I CAN'T hit it like you do!" Her frustration growing.

Then it hit me, I could see in her sweet little angelic face that she meant she couldn't throw the ball up with one hand while still holding the tennis racket in the other hand because she only had 5 fingers instead of 10 like me. That's when as a parent, you have to think fast! So I sat the ball on top of the racket, popped the ball into the air with the racket then hit it again.

"See you can do it just like that!"

"No, I can't! I'm done!" frustrated and angry, she walked away.

No, she didn't cry. No, we didn't talk any more about it. I opted to let it go. It could have been a teaching moment but I opted to leave it be. Like the song goes "Know when to walk away, know when to fold"... or something like that. It was a fold 'em kind of moment for me. I felt sad for her, sad for me. Sad I didn't do it in a way she could have done it in the first place. It's moments like that, I find myself fighting the tears. It's the little moments like that that sometimes I beat myself up over later. I think why didn't I just do it the way that she could do it in the first place. In all honesty though, there are many times I forget about her limb difference. I have to remind myself, she's four. She's stubborn, she's strong, she senses your emotions in an instant. It's important to me that she doesn't sense that emotion from me about moments like this. At least not yet. Some day we can talk about my feelings regarding situations. At the young, impressionable, innocent age of four is not that moment.

You have to know your child. Know when to take the opportunity to teach and know when to take the moment to just let things be. I know my Bella, in the midst of her anger and frustration was not the moment to teach. We often talk about how you have to work hard in life. When she says "I can't do it" about ANYTHING, we say "you CAN do it". It's important to try to give it your best and that's what I want to teach her. Sometimes it's ok to feel frustrated and walk away. We'll try again another day, another time. I'll do better next time. I'm more aware of her feelings about the whole thing. Now that I know it was a challenge, I'll work harder to show her a different way to start. Maybe she'll remember the way I showed her the second time. Until then, I won't beat myself up about it. She's four and she has plenty of time to play with tennis balls and rackets if she wants!

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