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Fire in the Hole!

There are many times as a parent that can lead to the feeling of wanting to crawl under a table or run to the nearest exit to hide from embarrassment. I can think of a few separate occasions where my daughter "Katie" had me in this state of wanting to escape.


Surely some of you will be able to relate to these next few anecdotes I share below, and hopefully you can find the humor in a couple of them, as I did...maybe not in the moment, but in retrospect. While these types of moments can bring up feelings of embarrassment, they are also learning opportunities, and also opportunities for gratitude if we choose to look for it.



Imagine sitting at a table in a restaurant, enjoying a nice dinner as a family. It's not a real large establishment and the tables are fairly close together. Now imagine a loud noise coming out of your two year old daughter as she yells out "Fire in the hole!". (Yes, she really did, and I plead the fifth on where she learned that phrase.) I had a quick mixture of thoughts and reactions all at once.


I wanted to hide, scold my daughter...and yes, laugh all at the same time. I thought, "Oh my Gosh! Not only did my daughter just expel gas from her rear for people to hear AS THEY ARE EATING, but she actually yelled "fire in the hole!".


As I managed to stifle the laugh I quickly glanced around to the couples and families seated around us. Luckily, I got a couple of knowing glances and smiles, but for the most part it seemed no one really noticed, or let it interrupt their conversations. Next, I took a minute to teach Katie about table etiquette and bodily functions...at least as much as a 2 year old could comprehend. Did that lesson sink in? Well........



Imagine the same scenario, just a different day and different restaurant. Katie's dad and I had recently become the parents of a potty trained 2 year old. Yay! (2 very exhausting, but successful days, that may have ended with alcoholic beverages.) We were again enjoying a nice dinner out, when Katie let us know she needed to go to the restroom. (Alright! She needs to go and she let us know!) I hopped up excited to take her and so glad I could now go to the restroom without a diaper bag in tow. I'll spare you the details, but we had success and walked back to our table.


As we arrived to our table Katie threw her hands in the air and exclaimed loudly and proudly to her dad, "I went poop!". I mean, it was definitely a moment to celebrate, maybe just not with a room full of strangers who were trying to swallow their dinner. Again I experienced a quick moment of feeling embarrassed, but also received some smiles from fellow diners that alleviated that feeling. We had a little chat again about etiquette, after telling Katie how proud we were of her, and we went back to enjoying the rest of our dinner.



Both of these situations, while somewhat embarrassing in the moment, gave me the opportunity to find humor and gratitude for different reasons. My career as a Child Life Specialist in the hospital can sometimes give me a unique perspective as a parent, and helps with finding gratitude in both simple and more challenging moments.


In both of the moments I described above I was able to be thankful for a child with healthy intestines. Something as "simple" as passing gas or pooping can be a challenge for some children...even leading to hospitalizations and surgeries to correct issues.


Also, If you have ever had surgery or anesthesia then you know one of the requirements before being discharged is passing gas (loudly and proudly for all to hear), and maybe even having a bowel movement. It is something to be celebrated!!!


Maybe it shouldn't be announced in a busy restaurant, but it should be celebrated and appreciated. I'm able to say I have a girl with humor, with healthy intestines, and who is proud of her accomplishments. I'm also proud to say she did finally learn to handle bodily functions in a more private and quiet way. Phew...another parenting task checked off!



The last anecdote I'll share is one I have witnessed many times, but thankful that I can only think of this one time to share from personal experience. The setting this time is the grocery store....yep, you probably know where I'm headed with this one.


3 year old Katie, her dad, and I all went to the store to get a full list of items that we needed. About halfway through our trip Katie begins having a meltdown. For the life of me I can't remember what started it, but it was a full blown tantrum...crying, screaming, hitting, and kicking. The looks from other customers started, and I knew there was no coming back or reasoning with her at that point.


Katie's dad agreed to finish the shopping while I carried Katie out to the car, getting kicked and hit the whole way there. I remember feeling so embarrassed, angry, and frustrated, and wanting to scream myself. In that moment, there was no finding gratitude.


I WAS able to realize that Katie was probably tired, and she was having big emotions that she couldn't control, and that she didn't choose to have a meltdown in the middle of a busy store to embarrass me. She needed my calm and patience as she was feeling so out of control...which meant I had to dig deep to find what she needed!!



Thinking about that time now, I'm able to be grateful for a child who has healthy lungs who was, and is, able to scream. I'm also thankful for a child who has a strong body. I didn't enjoy getting kicked and hit, but so many parents would take a moment like that in a heartbeat over having moments of watching their child, who is so weak while fighting cancer or another disease, struggle to even sit up in bed.


That evening in the grocery store I also had a partner there with me, who could finish the shopping. I had help. I didn't have to leave a cart full of groceries and go home without the food we needed, or stay and shop while annoyed customers had to listen to the crying and screaming.


No, it's not always easy to think about these things in the moments of high stress...and feeling embarrassed, angry, or defeated are all normal reactions. At the time it was all I could do to keep myself calm in the moment, much less find anything to be grateful for! I do make it a point to think about gratitude daily now, so the practice of going back over my day and looking at certain situations through a different lens, or a gratitude lens, is super helpful.


That practice of looking back also helps when new situations come up in life. I'm able to react a little differently or shift my perspective more quickly...most of the time. The times I'm not able to do this I am learning to forgive myself for being human, and strive to do better the next time.



There are always going to be moments as parents, and in life in general, that test and challenge us. I choose to look at these moments as learning opportunities. Sometimes they are learning opportunities meant just for me, or my daughter, and other times maybe there is something for both of us to learn.


What can you learn from these types of situations or "struggles" in life? What can you find to be grateful for? Can you change the word "struggle" to "opportunity"? Every situation or "struggle" is an opportunity to learn . Is there a different perspective you can have that can change how you view an entire situation, or person?


What if we could look at life and each situation we encounter with the joy and innocence of a child? Would we celebrate a little more? Would we find reasons to be embarrassed, hurt, or angry...or would we find things to be grateful for and to delight in? Definitely worth thinking about.



I hope that these little personal anecdotes gave you a giggle, or at least made you feel less alone on the parenting "struggle bus". I also hope that you can find humor, love, and compassion when possible...and as always, approach life and people with an open heart and mind, while leaning into gratitude.


With Gratitude and Love,


Sunisha

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