As I pulled up to the school to pick the girls up I immediately noticed that Hope’s neck was crooked. What in the world happened? She was fine when I put her on the school bus this morning. At 8:40 she was in the nurse’s office with a compress on her neck. She told them that mommy knew about her stiff neck. And she was laughing about her head being crooked so they didn’t call me. She told me her elbow hurt before she got on the bus. Elbow. Neck. Pretty much the same thing.
I could tell she was in a lot of pain. She cringed as I helped her change her shirt. I told Brett that I knew what it was but I couldn’t fix it. He asked me what it was. I told him that it’s called acute torticollis. He seemed rather impressed with my knowledge and that I had just diagnosed our child. Hey, I worked for a chiropractor 20 years ago. I still remember stuff.
I called the chiropractor and made an appointment. Brett took Hope to the appointment and I stayed home with Mikayla. When he got home he said “You were right. The doctor said it’s whatever that word was that you said it was.” The doctor had massaged and stretched the muscles in her neck and she had handled it very well. Her neck was still crooked. It was going to take some time for her to return to normal.
That evening I went to my parent-teacher conference at Mikayla and Hope’s school. As soon as I sat down their teacher asked me how Hope was. I told her that Brett had taken her to the chiropractor but she was still about the same. She said that the girls aide had put her hand on Hope’s shoulder when she was helping her with her work. Hope looked up at her and said “Do it again and I’ll hit you!” I laughed myself silly over that story. And the aide and teacher had a good laugh over it too.
Now obviously I don’t want my girls hitting their aide. But that isn’t really the point of this story. There are a couple of huge successes wrapped up in Hope’s sentence. First, she did an excellent job communicating her feelings. I’ve spent years wondering what she was thinking and feeling. At this exact moment in time there was no question what she was thinking or feeling. She was feeling pain and she didn’t want to be touched. She clearly told those around her that they needed to not touch her. The second success is that she showed self-control. She didn’t swat the aide’s hand to let her know that she needed to not touch her. She chose to use words and she kept her hands to herself. This is great progress. Now we just need to work on using nicer words. “Please don’t touch me. It hurts.” is more polite than “Do it again and I’ll hit you!” It’s not as funny but it is polite.
Each little step of progress is important. Each little step takes time. Sometimes the little steps make us cry. And sometimes they make us laugh. I’m thankful for those moments of laughter. I’m thankful for people who choose to laugh with me. And I’m thankful for little girls who teach me that those seemingly small moments in life are actually big moments.