Sunday, February 21, 2010

Self-pity. Or not.

In the days since my girlie got her back brace, I've gotten some nice comments from people we know. "She doesn't seem embarrassed by it." "She has such a good attitude." "She doesn't seem to be feeling sorry for herself."

Well. That shouldn't be surprising. In the big picture of life and all the things that can go wrong, this is pretty minor. She shouldn't be embarrassed. She is not defined by her curvy spine or the brace she wears because of it. And she definitely shouldn't be feeling sorry for herself. It's a little disturbing that people are surprised by this. This should be the way it is: people should deal with relatively minor adversity with a good attitude. There is no reason for self-pity.

Of course it's possible that she does indeed feel sorry for herself, but is smart enough to know not to show it. I don't see that, but then I'm the mom; I want to see her as mature and well-adjusted. But we talk about it a lot - after all, at least 4 times a day she needs my help getting in or out of the thing. We're developing a very quick and entertaining method for encasing her. And she says things like this:

"It's not as bad as I thought it would be. I thought it would be horrible. I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep. But it's not so bad."

"No one really notices. If someone bumps me and wonders why I feel funny, I'll tell them it's my bullet-proof vest." (This generated a lecture on the properties of bullet-proof vests from the big brother. "They're not hard; they're soft. They don't deflect; they absorb." I am grateful that the "you idiot" at the end was merely implied and not spoken. Even if we knew it was there.

Yesterday at a Girl Scout event, her troop was demonstrating the Limbo dance. Her troop-mates urged her to do it. But she found she couldn't bend backward to do it right. They all cracked up laughing, together. And she good-naturedly went back to holding the limbo stick for everyone else.

So, she doesn't seem to be wallowing in self-pity. But then I am not sure why she would. I'm not one of those caring nurturing moms who exclaim over every bump and bruise. My kids say I'm not mean, but I'm not like some of the other moms they see. I don't have much patience with victimhood. Things happen, deal with it, move on. The Dad of the house is pretty much the same way.

Then I thought about our parents. I don't remember my mom letting me spend much time whining over minor hurts or injustices. I cannot imagine my father ever, ever, spending time feeling sorry for himself. (Actually, that's not quite true. During the last few weeks of his life he surprised me by getting very morose and saying "I guess I'll never go to England." I had never known he'd wanted to go to England. But now as I'm typing this I realize that's probably why the summer after he died I took my first on-my-own, traveling-as-an-adult vacation - to England.) I am sure he never had time or patience for victimhood, either. My mother- and father-in-law, as far as I can tell, are the same way.

I'm sure my girlie will go through some times of feeling sorry for herself. I remember some dark days in my teens, though I'd rather forget them. Still, we can't spend time sitting around thinking about how hard our lives are. For the most part, compared with others, they are not.

That's why my kids know I'm joking when I say "my life is so hard" when some minor problem comes up. Our lives are easy. Her life is easy. So it shouldn't be remarkable that she has a good attitude toward wearing a back brace. It should be remarkable if she didn't.


G said...

I am glad she's adapting to wearing it so well. And I've never been one to coddle my kids over every little bump or scrape either.

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DADvocate said...

Speaking of braces, my daughter got her braces off her teeth the other day. What a difference in appearance! She's always smiled a lot but even more now, I think, just because it looks better.

DADvocate said...

How's your daughter doing? Is everything OK out there in Two Kid land?