My sweet boy had an infection on his arm last year. It appeared to be some sort of insect or spider bite that just keep swelling bigger and bigger.
After topical creams and antiseptics didn’t work, I took him to the doctor.
Our pediatrician decided to lance it open just enough to let the swelling out and possibly take a sample for testing.
He’s eight years old and knew exactly what was happening. He saw a scalpel. He knew it would hurt.
But this precious little boy laid down on the bed, held his arm out, and let her do her work while a tear fell down from his eye.
He was scared but he didn’t refuse. He didn’t pull back. He didn’t force me into one of those awful parenting positions where you have to hold them down to get the right medical treatment.
It hurt but he held strong and faced the pain and the fear.
It was the epitome of brave.
Once we were done and he was calm, I told him how unbelievably brave he had been and that I was so very proud. I apologized, like moms do, that he had to go through it.
His response made me stop in my tracks.
“I wasn’t brave, I cried.”
As if emotion has anything to do with bravery.
I knelt down and explained to him the real definition of bravery: It is courageous behavior or character.
Being courageous does not mean you don’t shed a tear from pain. Being courageous does not mean that you aren’t hurt in the process.
Being courageous means you face it.
And boy, did he face it.
Those few tears he shed came from a physical response to pain had ABSOLUTELY ZERO connection with his bravery that day.
How did he decide that crying is the antithesis to bravery?
Is it just in his nature, as a male, to think “boys don’t cry”? Had he learned it from television and movies? His friends? Was it me?
I want my son AND my daughter to be brave, courageous and valiant. But somehow along the way he seemed to have learned the wrong definition for those terms.
So now, I have to rewrite it for him. To remind him again and again that pain (psychical AND emotional) may cause you to cry from time to time.
And that a tear does not make him less brave.
Facing your challenges with dignity and courage is what makes you brave.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.