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December 05, 2011

Growing pains

Mads has been whimpering her way through some growing pains these days - not the emotional kind, though there've been a few of those as well. But the physical ones, aches that settle into her limbs at night. I remember having them myself as a kid and they're awful. It's an afflication of the soon-to-be tall.

"You know why my legs hurt, right?" she said last night, ice pack against her hamstrings. "Because I'm growing now."

"Your legs used to hurt too, right?" she asked. She loves it when she finds similarities between us: You used to like Strawberry Shortcake too, right? You used to wear pink too, right? You used to fall down  too, right? It's a phase I know will pass too soon. But as for the growing pains, I told her that yes, I did have them.

"But they don't hurt anymore, because now you don't grow," she said.

"Nope, they don't hurt anymore. And your legs won't hurt either, when you're finished growing tall and strong. But now you're a kid, so you need to grow."

"Yeah," she nodded. "They won't hurt when I'm big."

Then this: "But then my children's legs will hurt, so I'll help them, too."

And that's the thing about Mads: She's not just a 5-year-old with a sore leg, she's a 5-year-old with a sore leg who is already thinking about the fact that she may one day be mom to a 5-year-old with a sore leg. I've always believed that empathy is a learned skill, but I sometimes think she was born just brimming with it. And even though it can get complicated sometimes - an ice pack can only do so much, after all - it's so lovely to witness the way her little mind works.

December 5, 2011 | Permalink


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"Having a two-year-old is like having a blender that you don't have the top for." ~Jerry Seinfeld.

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