My children have given me the opportunity to listen to the soundtrack to Frozen in the car on repeat for a few days. The words of one of the songs really jumped out at me:
“People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed. Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best!”
This song comes in a comical scene during the film, but it struck me as having a deeper message for me personally. They may have been talking about finding true love, and how none of us are perfect, but it made me think of how I react in difficult situations.
Mad, scared AND stressed
I can think of one in particular, and it is not one I am proud of. Between them, my children have had a lot of time backwards and forwards to the hospital, and I had a worrying time over the health of my little boy when he was 3. He had been referred for urgent ENT surgery when another issue came up that meant he needed to be reviewed before going under. As this issue was not classed as urgent, the paediatric team were happy to see him in their own good time, not being in the least bit bothered that ENT wanted him in right now.
The whole situation made me very anxious. I had been in a similar one previously with my daughter, and had found a way to work the system to get her seen more quickly. I was both mad and scared and stressed with what was going on with my son, and I didn’t handle things very well.
I won’t go into full details about what happened, but I was a little evasive with the truth with a member of clerical staff to try and get him seen more quickly. She called me later in the day and I was extremely embarrassed to be caught out. I don’t like to lie. I am not sure which I was more ashamed about – being caught out, or having been economical with the truth in the first place.
So, why and how did I get into that situation? What was so important to me that I would go against my normal relatively transparent honesty and feel such enormous shame afterwards?
Hear me roar!
All I can relate it to is that of a mother with her tiger cubs. I will do anything in my power to defend and protect them. They are defenceless without me, and it is my responsibility to look after their safety and well-being. I just need to find the right way to do it sometimes!
And this is where it comes down to the second line I quoted above: “Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best!” Had the hospital staff been more understanding of the predicament, even if nothing had changed, the way I behaved would have been different. Had anyone agreed that it was unfair, and that they would, for example, put him on a cancellation list for an appointment, I might have felt nurtured and a little less defensive.
Had they told me that the system was broken and it wasn’t in their power to change it, but they understood I was frightened for my son, it would have made the world of difference. My heart would still have been breaking, but I would not have felt so alone.
Share some compassion
How can we help people who are mad or scared or stressed? Throw them a little compassion. Well, perhaps, not throw it, but hand it to them gently. Be with them in their time of distress. Give them a chance to open up without fear of looking silly or being judged. Offer them your time and your empathy, and see how they blossom before you.
I thought you’d like to know that after my son’s operation (three months later than it should have been), the prognosis was much better than I feared. He actually started sleeping through the night, aged 4, and life is much better for the whole family because of it.
I am not ashamed to be the advocate for my children. I am learning to temper my fierce roar to a more measured assertion of my feelings when necessary. If I wait until the initial anger and fear has dispersed, my expression is more productive. I try to roar privately, then tackle the issue at hand. I try!
Have you had an occasion when your inner tiger has come out? If you are a mother, have you also sensed the need to protect your young?
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