When a child falls over, bumps his head, scratches his knee, cuts his finger, or anything along those lines, they take a moment to pause and reflect and gage the seriousness of the situation. In this moment, they turn their attention to their parent (or the closest possible guardian) and wait to see what their reaction is. Our friends children do it. I’ve seen stranger’s children do it. My kids do it. There’s that split second of “Mummy is this OK or should I be screaming right now?” Generally, their reaction will be based on ours. This is as long as it’s not a serious injury like a broken bone or a foreign object, i.e. sweetcorn, stuffed up a nose. Panic is then acceptable and somewhat welcomed.
Our boys know that I’m worse than daddy when it comes to this type of stuff. If they fall that initial *gasp* that I illicit (quite involuntarily I might add) tells them all they need to know – “I’m about to get a bucket load of attention right now.” Or to put it more candidly, “I’m going to milk this!”
The thing is, I can’t blame them or any other child who does it; (I know it’s naughty to admit this) but it isn’t quite limited to just children is it? If we’re honest, isn’t there the teeniest part of us that, when we stub our toe, burn our hand, fall, slip, cut ourselves, or bang our head, milks it a little bit too? We make out that it’s a bit worse than it actually is? Just a little? You know, to get that cup of coffee you thought you were going to have to get yourself? To put your feet up? To gain control of the remote? Come on, you must know what I’m talking about? That over-exaggerated, “Oh I’m dying, I’m dying!”, “It’s Man Flu!” type thing we sometimes do? Men do it – where do you think the term ‘Man Flu’ came from in the first place? Women do it – time of the month, perhaps? It’s that inner spoilt, Veruca Salt, whiny, “Give it to me – I want it now” voice that screams inside us whenever we have an opportunity to ‘invest’ in something that’s happened to us. As humans, we grasp onto every situation offered to us in order for some selfish gain; right?
No? Just me then. Well, this is awkward.
But it’s like that inner child POPS it’s little head up, waves cheekily, I give in for a second (“Honey, can you make me a coffee?” *Bats eyelids*), and it disappears again until the next ‘incident’, as though nothing ever happened. That Devil on my shoulder. That ghost in my closet.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a huge deal; I don’t do it every time I hurt myself/am hurt (because 1. that would pretty much be all the time, and 2. ultimately, that would be outright lying and overtly manipulative. Because it’s not intended; not really. But it always, somehow, turns out that way.). It’s just sometimes, little Nina wants to get a word in. Don’t worry – I’m not a socio-path or anything. I don’t spend my days waiting for the next opportunity to come knocking; it’s just a normal thing every person faces at some point or another. If I were a socio-path I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet would be too. Including my boys.
“Mummy, me hurt.” *puppy dog eyes*
“Oh no!” *gives big cuddle*
“Me want sweetie now.” (Even though I’ve already said no fifty times that day. But now I have to make him feel better.)
We’re so naive. We’re all so conniving.
Still, as H.G. Wells said, “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” And so I will endeavour to stand, and not give in to my baser urges. And teach my children not to as well. It’s just so hard not to shout a little louder than necessary when I stub my toe … but I’ll try; I’ll try.