Call me Mr. Spock

Unsympathetic. That’s me. When one of my kids chooses a stupid action which results in an injury, after checking for blood and consciousness, I tend to roll my eyes and say, “Well, you should be more careful.” I rarely swoop in with a flurry of hugs and concern. In the old days when I blamed myself for being imperfect and measured myself against Ma Ingalls of “Little House on the Prairie,” I would have considered this proof of my failure as a mother.

Now, I just view this as a personal quirk, an endearing quality, one of those weird things about me that make me myself and which also makes me rational during emergencies. I regret that I’m not all sweetness and light, in the same way I regret that my right pinkie toe insists on rolling to the right, but what can you do, really? I’m pragmatic. (Once, I observed out loud to a friend of mine, “You’re so pragmatic!” and I think she felt insulted, but I meant that as a sort of compliment. Isn’t it better to be realistic than bubbling over with pointless emotion?)

This afternoon, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed. Here in the Pacific Northwest our rain is usually delivered without drama. We just tolerate day after day of drizzle and gloom, no fuss, just muss. No light shows, no audio.

The kids (only three here at the moment, age 9, 9 and 5) were dazzled, and one of them (a visitor), said, “I’m shaking. I’m terrified of thunder. Once, when I was four, I was getting into my pajamas and the thunder hit and I fell over.” And I, Miss Sympathetic, said, “Oh, well, you’re fine. Go play. It’s just a storm.”

And a little later, I followed that comment with, “Hey, look! Stop speaking your phobias aloud because she is borrowing that from you!” I finally told my daughter that storms don’t kill anyone. (At least not here in the Northwest, at least not often, at least not in the house, not while I am in charge, so there.)

My tolerance for fear is low. Either something terrible will happen or it won’t. No need to freak out. Save that emotion for something that matters like wondering whether your children will ever really grow up and and leave the house. Also, will someone please tell me why everyone who lives in this house except for the teenagers is capable of putting their dirty laundry in the laundry receptacle I put in the bathroom? They must be blind; how else to explain the dirty clothes discarded next to the basket?

And in conclusion, I’d like to mention that my family room ceiling still has a hole in it because the leaky shower drain has yet to be fixed. (I think our friend, Mr. Fix-It, has forgotten us.)

13 thoughts on “Call me Mr. Spock

  1. Sometimes it is scary how many ways I feel we are alike!

    I am the same way about injuries… no blood? Great. Quit crying and be more careful next time.

    I missed thunderstorms when we lived in San Diego. I’m used to rain with the light show and audio.

    As for the laundry basket… no one in my house knows where it is!


  2. I’m the same way. And I also considered it a fault for a long time. And now I just don’t have the time or energy to obsess over it anymore so I told myself to just get over it. Glad I’m not the only one.


  3. I really liked this post and really appreciated it as well. I am the same way with my kids. I have several draft posts that are on this very subject. I don’t think we are alone in this approach – but when I’m sitting next to those “put-a-Bandaid-on-every-stinkin-sore” mothers – I feel a bit guilty that I’m not that kind of mom. Nice to know you’re not either. Maybe it’s a mom-with-4-kids-including-twins, thing.


  4. Thank God I am not the only one. I am not a coddler nor a cuddler. The Boy is. Makes for drama in our house, on both ends.

    And yes, the majority of the time, when there’s an injury, the first thing out of my mouth is “You really need to pay more attention to what’s going on around you.”

    I needed this post today -Thank you!


  5. Being a health professional I am a lot like you in how I react to those slight illnesses and injuries. I never thought of myself as pragmatic but often feel I am unsympathetic to their little hurts. Especially when they hurt each other over something silly.


  6. I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who is “pragmatic” with my kids (and my husband and life in general…). Sometimes, if a kid makes a particularly pained cry, I get a tinge of fear that something might actually be wrong. But generally I just ask “Are you bleeding? Are you going to be okay?” and they answer “No” and “Yes” and go off to play. Every once in a while I feel guilty for not scooping someone up and snuggling for a couple minutes with kisses and hugs ….. and then I get over it and realize that I don’t want them to be wimps or drama queens, but would much prefer that they be pragmatic and practical like me. [:-)


  7. I’m pretty much the same way. I do tend to be more sympathetic about fear, having a few phobias of my own, but I deal with that pretty matter-of-factly because I’ve learned that being overly dramatic with a fearful person just feeds the fear, so I think your approach was right on. We’ve also had a recent case of borrowed phobias in our household too. Funny how catching fear can be.


  8. My usual response, when they’ve done something stupid and hurt themselves, is “Bet that hurt.” I am not the most sympathetic mom in the world either. And I don’t feel a bit guilty.


  9. LOL! Put another X on the side of the unsympathetic moms for me…I can’t stand hysterics!! I try to remind my children of the Boy Who Cried Wolf and make sure they know they’d better save the shrieking for real pain, but the term “real pain” is a bit difficult to define, isn’t it?

    I don’t go into hysterics at true trauma. I simply faint dead away. I don’t consider that the same thing.


  10. If the dirty clothes pile up too high, too long I load ’em in a trash bag and have one of the kids tote it out to the trash can. There is always a favorite shirt or pair of pants in it & they learn real fast…
    if they really wanted it, it wouldn’t have been left dirty and in the wrong spot. Of course now that they are down to 2 outfits each they take better care.


  11. Methinks you saw the Little House tv show, not the books, because the Ma in the books was a lot more like you than you might suspect. 😉

    I loved how you admitted that storms DO indeed kill people, but not on your watch.

    My daughter is afraid of heights. I’m gonna have to get all pragmatic on her, because it bugs the crap out of me.

    Oh, and my solution to the laundry dilemma would be to ignore it. If you wash the laundry in the house, don’t wash what isn’t in the hamper. They’re old enough to figure it out.


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