Zoe has always been very sweet and tender. She’s very gentle and when she gets hurt, whether it’s physical or emotional, she is visibly crushed. When she gets physically hurt, she will scream the most shrilly cry imaginable. It’s extremely piercing to the ears. Taking her to get her immunizations usually leaves me wondering where I can find a woman’s medium-sized straight jacket. Zoe will literally back herself into a corner of the exam room, screaming as if her life depended on it, kicking at anyone that dared compromise her personal space. The most “wonderful” time was when this happened when Cali was still a newborn. I was holding and trying to console an infant, that didn’t know what the screaming was all about, as well as trying to hold down and console a five year old who thought she was about to be murdered by a woman in scrubs who was approaching her with a 10 foot long needle filled with unknown chemicals. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

When Zoe was born, I was very accustomed to a rambunctious three year old boy who didn’t care how high he was when he jumped off the play set. The only thing Malakai really cried about was when he had to go to sleep. Other than that, he was ALWAYS going and never paid much attention to bumps or scrapes along the way.

Growing up with three brothers, I was prepared for Malakai. Growing up without sisters, I was not prepared for Zoe. It isn’t natural for me to feel sympathy when Zoe starts crying inconsolably after bumping her toe. I would like to say, “Get over it. You aren’t bleeding, nothing’s broken. I didn’t cry when I pushed your 8 lb. 4 oz. body from my womb, you can handle this.” but I don’t. I force myself to hug her and reassure her that she is ok. Then she’s fine and runs off to play again. Sometimes, depending on the injury, she may cry for several minutes and may even give up what she was doing when she got hurt. It’s just not my natural reaction to console her injuries. I want her to be mostly tough and sometimes fragile. Like me.

Zoe wanted to ride her scooter to school today. I am usually over-prepared whenever we go places. I’ve got snacks and changes of clothes and tons of extra diapers and wipes in case the vehicle breaks down on the side of the road. But I decided to leave everything behind, including my phone (?!), as I followed Zoe on her scooter, while pushing Cali in the stroller. Sure enough. As sure as Murphy’s Law loves to prove me wrong, Zoe fell. Hard. She ate it bad. She was screaming loud. I could tell her skinned knees were going to be the cause of torture for her for the next two weeks. She had scraped off a chunk of skin on BOTH knees. She’s wearing shorts, I don’t have band-aids, I don’t even have water and a napkin to wipe off the blood that is now rising to the surface. She wants me to hold her, she’s wearing a backpack, I’m pushing a stroller, a scooter is now laying in the street. I was confused. We were halfway to school. Should we go to the nurse’s office? She’s saying she can’t walk. Should we go back home? Should she stay home from school? Do I carry her on my back? Damn, I should have brought the van. I should have at least brought my bike, with Cali in the trailer, so I could ambulate Zoe back home in that. I don’t even know how to get the scooter onto the stroller without it hitting Cali in the head. Then Zoe says something that instantly made me stop moving, spin around and say, “What?”. She repeats, “I’ll just ride my scooter.” What?!? Wow! “Ok, home? You’ll ride it home?” “No.” she says, “I’ll ride it to school.” In shock I mumble, “Ok, well, we’ll just go to the nurse’s office then when we get to school. So we can clean that and get some bandaids on it.” “Three?” She says, as she wipes the tears from her face. “No, I think you’ll need four. Two on each knee.” I say. For the rest of the way to school, I can’t stop telling her how proud I am that she got back on her scooter and praising her about how brave she was to still head to school and even on her scooter. I was so proud of her.

We get to school and as she’s heading to her class, I ask her if she’d like to go to the Nurse’s office. She nods but then says, “Well Ms. Staff has some bandaids.” So I let her know that we need to wash her knees off and then put the bandaids on. Just like many other times before, I knew I’d be her nurse and take care of her injuries and make her feel better. However, Zoe walked straight into her class and nonchalantly shared with her teacher about the injuries she just received on the way to school. Then she hung up her backpack and took out her supplies to get settled into class. With both of us standing near the doorway, I ask if she still wanted me to take her to the Nurse’s office. She smiled and shook her head “no” and headed to where she needed to be seated. I didn’t know what to do. This was new terrain. My little girl being brave, especially in light of the “horrific” injuries to her knees (there was blood!), was not normal. Even the slightest scrape gets pampered and a bandaid or two. Noticing what was going on, another mom mentions that I looked like I was going to cry. Maybe!! My daughter just took a gigantic leap into something I wasn’t prepared for. Independence. She didn’t even need me to put a bandaid on her wound. Not just any wound. There were TWO and there was A LOT of blood coagulating on BOTH of her knees!

I walked the rest of the way home switching emotions from joy to sadness. I didn’t know if I wanted to shower Zoe with hugs and kisses and an award or just sit in a corner and cry for an hour.

I know this is a huge turning point for her and truthfully, I hope it lasts. At least, I hope it lasts for every immunization visit from now on.