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Teaching My Children to Be Brave

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It was one of those days when the details weren’t unfolding as I’d planned. But with each turn, I tried to make the best.

Half way through the day I found myself having lunch with three of my four beauties at a Chick-fil-A while our minivan’s tire was replaced. Every unexpected twist afforded stress and a silver lining. Lunch was over and it was time to retrieve our fixed car. I offered a prayer of gratitude for the surprise extended time together and a bank account that could handle the purchase of two new tires.

I ran across the crosswalk, pushing the stroller with the four-year old in it (because she seemed to have a RIGHT to have a turn in it) while my eldest daughter rand ahead holding the chubby-fingered hand of her two-year old sister. We were rushing to cross ten lanes of traffic in the amount of time allowed by the walk signal. Yes, ten. With a median in the middle and we needed a clip in our steps if we were going to make it the whole way. Just over the median, the stroller wheel hit a bump and stopped, but the laws of physics ensured I continued moving forward. So the stroller flipped forward and I catapulted over it. I felt each part of my body hit the concrete. My shins. Knees. Wrist.

I jumped up. I wanted us to be visible to the traffic that was about to starting driving over this crosswalk at any minute.

And I was humiliated.

Despite my body throbbing, the bleeding scrapes on my legs (and even the cut from my bra’s underwire) I wanted to save face. Not only had I flipped over the stroller, my skirt had flipped over my backside. I’d been exposed (in lots of ways) for who I was. A stumbler. One who falls. Who gets hurt. Who often overshares (insert apology for the visual just offered.)

My flock gathered back on the median and waited. As I examined my injuries and offered stern instructions for my eldest to grip her two-year old sister’s arm as if her life depended on it (because it kind of did), I realized we were stuck. There on that island with the traffic swirling around us, we had no pedestrian button to push. As we waited a few cycles of lights, I realized we had no easy way out.

And in all of this three pairs of eyes watching.

Mom are you ok?

Are you hurt?

And as it became obvious we were deserted on a median, What are we going to do?

To be brave, is to live brave in every circumstance. To pray the tire will hold out to the repair shop. To let go of our plans of how our day (or our month, or our life) should go, to jump up to be visible to the world even when we’re hurt and a bit humiliated. To be willing to be seen even when we’ve exposed more than we expected or intended.

This, with the eyes watching, is how we teach our children to be brave. It is not a lesson plan or a lecture, it is the getting up and trying again when we’ve stumbled that will do the teaching.

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