Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Once or twice a year Caedmon has to go in to get a medical device changed out. It has been such a source of anxiety for him that what should typically be a quick, in-office procedure turns into an OR visit involving anesthesia. This time around he was determined to be brave.

'Mom, I won't push the doctor's hands away this time. I promise. I will just lay still.'

The whole trip to the hospital, Caedmon kept repeating that he would be brave, that he would just let the doctor put in the device. The whole long wait in the examining room, he kept a courageous face and cheerfully chatted with the nurse. When the doctor was running late and the nurse let him play on an iPad while he waited he was chipper and chatty. When the doctor finally came in the room and began to explain what would happen and what she was going to do, he smiled. But you could see the tears starting to well up in his eyes and the look of terror behind the smile. When the time came to actually go through the procedure, he turned to Adam and started to cry. Adam asked if Caedmon wanted Adam to hold him and Caedmon agreed. Caedmon screamed and cried throughout the few, eternal moments it took to get the old device out and the new device in but he held as still as he could, much different from previous experiences.

As Caedmon and Adam drove to school after the procedure, Caedmon apologized for not being brave. Adam assured him he was so brave and Adam was so proud of him. Caedmon asked Adam not to tell me anything because he wanted to tell me all about it.

When I showed up at his school a short while later to help him in his daily needs, he told me how scared he had been and how hard he had tried not to put his hands out and push the doctor away. 'It hurt, Mom, a lot! But it was a refreshing pain.'

(Let me just clarify but saying, the procedure actually is not painful, even Caedmon admits this when he has had some time and space to process, it is the anxiety and fear that cause him to imagine this is going to be so painful.)

His words, 'refreshing pain', kept resonating around in my brain throughout the rest of the day. That boy! I thought of how many times I have had to work through some really painful, difficult things, things I have been putting off because I didn't want to have to deal with them, and when the hard work is finally done and the relief at facing it and being on a better path sinks in, I would probably say that the pain was refreshing, it refreshed me and made me better than I was before.

I also thought of how so many parents make it their purpose as a parent to keep their kids from any pain. I never had that option with Caedmon. He was born into pain, so to speak, surgery within the first hours of life. Has that taken away from him, though? Has that hampered his growth, his spirit, his character? I would argue, it has enriched him, and me, and the whole family. Walking through every painful experience has taken away the fear of pain and difficulty. It becomes part of life, as it should be, because it is part of life, for every one of us. Keeping our kids from pain doesn't make them better people, it merely puts off the inevitable and stunts their preparedness for the rest of life. Let your kids feel pain. Let them make mistakes. Let them try and fail. Let them stumble and fall. Then work together to learn something from the experience.

Pain is refreshing.

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