There are many debatable things about parenting—aspects, styles and methods that people can argue as to what is right and wrong. But there is one thing I believe we can all agree on: Our children are watching. They are watching what we do, what we say and how we respond. I know and understand this and take it seriously. Of all the things I want my children to learn from me, one is the most important. I want them to learn to stay calm in the middle of a crisis.
Panic is the Enemy
When I was a teenager, I took a class and got certified as a Lifeguard. One of the basic things I learned that has stayed with me over the years was that people don’t drown because they cannot swim—they drown because they panic. I learned then that panic is the enemy.
Most situations are survivable if you stay calm, use your head and act with deliberation.
This lesson has served me well over my lifetime. It has helped me through some pretty bad situations. For good or bad, it was most often in front of my children. And I’m really hoping they were watching. After all, they picked up cursing from me, so hopefully they picked this up as well. One can hope, right?
I had another opportunity (really, it’s an opportunity, right?) to model this for them again this week. We had a slight emergency. A small fire trapped underneath my car—while we were driving, in heavy traffic. It was crazy, but I managed to get it out from under my car. Everyone was safe, and there was almost no damage to my vehicle.
After it was done, my youngest child (who had a front row seat to the arrival of the fire department from the safety of his seat in the back of the police car) thanked me for saving him. I told him that I would always save him. After a bit of a debate about my ability to save him in the middle of the night while I slept, he was solidly convinced that his mom could handle anything and would always save him.
That trust and faith is a big responsibility. But I carry it with honor. When they are very small, they place their world into your hands for safekeeping and I take that seriously. It’s a faith that eases over the years, as they become more aware of the world, and your size in it. But I think I get even more faith from my older children than I do from my youngest. My teenagers have seen me deal with more than a few crazy situations. They have experienced mom’s real super power: stay calm, figure it out and take care of it.
I want my kids to see this. I want my kids to learn this. I want my kids to have faith that I can handle anything. I want my kids to learn how to handle things themselves. I want my kids to have faith in their ability to handle things all by themselves. This doesn’t happen overnight. This doesn’t happen from one conversation. It happens when we show them, model for them, and reinforce it.
My daughter was waiting for me to pick her up that day. I sent her a text: “Not coming soon. Van on fire.” She wasn’t sure if I was pranking her. The fire truck screaming by was a big clue. Her debate: whether she should wait for me, or get another ride home. That’s faith.
I’ve Got This. You’ve Got This.
That’s when I knew I’d done my job. Or at least part of it. My kids have the confidence that they don’t have to worry—Mom’s got this. Now, I just have to make sure that I’ve taught them how Mom’s got this. Because when I’m not with them and the crap hits the fan, I want them to be able to stay calm and take care of it. That’s how I will have faith that no matter what happens, they are likely to make it out okay and come home to me.