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January 19, 2012

Why Are You Crying?

Why Are You Crying?

My kids are often a great inspiration to me. As any parent will tell you, you learn something every day about yourself from raising kids.

My kids both participate in organized sports. The sport-du-jour for both boys right now is rugby. Not exactly table tennis, so I certainly expect some bumps, bruises, aches and pains along the way. After years of soccer, baseball, football, basketball and water polo, I am used to it. Mostly.

Last night my 10-year-old had rugby practice and my 12-year-old wanted to swim laps. I take 10 to the field and watch the first part of practice. Then I go with 12 to the pool and he swims for half and hour and we head back to the field to get his brother. I get there just as practice is ending. This kids are finishing a scrimmage, then they huddle up. 2 minutes later, my son is running towards me on the sideline. As he arrives in front of me the gleeful smile vanishes from his face and suddenly I have a crying, quivering kid slumped at my feet moaning about his leg.

I catch the coache’s eye, point at my kid and say: Did I miss something?

Coach: You saw him – he was just running there – he was fine.

Me, to coach: Are you sure?

Coach: Yes

Me to my son: What happened?

But the best I can get for several minutes are big wet sobs. I lay him down, I check the leg – nothing bent, bleeding or visibly bruised. I give it a good mom rub, stroke his hair and plant a kiss on his forehead.

You ok, bud? Think you can walk?

And that’s it. He bounces up, shakes himself out and says something like “oh, it’s fine mom” before bounding off to the car.

Huh?

Pain is a funny thing – so is our relationship to it.

In the purely physical sense, pain teaches us our limits – it should be the signal to stop, slow down, seek help. But our culture often pushes us to test the limits of pain – to overcome it, push through it, outright ignore it. So we get confused and we even send mixed messages to our children.

Pain is also – in a sense – a way that we communicate with others. We cry out – we ask for help – we seek comfort and attention from those around us. So sometimes, even if we don’t hurt very much, we express pain so that others will show us that they care. I think that’s what happened to my son last night – he just wanted a little extra love and attention after a long day and one sure-fire way to get that from your mom is to cry.

But what happens when we aren’t children anymore? I have been thinking a lot about pain since I started to run. When I started running several people I really respect told me that I would just have to accept a certain amount of pain and injury as part of the deal. It’s not quite “no pain, no gain” but it’s close. Is that wise? I am still undecided.

No one told me about the other pain I might find though. Sometimes even when my body doesn’t really hurt, my mind does. And I can appreciate the sentiment of wanting to collapse on the ground and just cry until someone comes and comforts me a bit. Since most of us can’t really do that as adults, we have to find new ways to work it out. Maybe I run more, maybe I write. Sometimes a glass of wine does the trick.

And sometimes, it’s just ok to cry even if no one is there to kiss your forehead and tell you it’s ok.

Jacqueline

2 Comments

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  1. Rob
    January 22, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    If it happens again… try to find out where it’s at. When I was about that age (11-12 I think), I would get these INTENSE pains behind my knees. It was usually at night and my mom has told me I would wake up almost screaming from the pain.

    Doctors could never find a cause for it and essentially chalked it up to “growing pains”. There was never any pattern to it, and I guess I did “grow out of them”, and I did end up growing quite a bit over the next couple years, I think I hit my adult height by the time I was 14.

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      January 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      Thanks Rob! I do pay attention – and I also think there’s a healthy dose of psychology there. And thanks for reading the blog too.