My almost-seven-year-old had his tonsils and adenoids removed two days ago. His doctor told us that, after two straight years of chronic strep throat, it was time to get those suckers taken out, and no one was more excited about the surgery than Sutton.
That isn’t sarcasm, by the way. He was legitimately thrilled about having a tonsillectomy. He found out that he’d get ten days off of school, that he could have all the ice cream and Sprite he wanted, that he was getting a new Lego kit, and that he’d have basically unlimited access to video games, and…well…he was stoked.
It was truly bizarre how ecstatic he was.
He was so excited the night before his surgery that he had trouble going to sleep, and he woke up extra early the next morning, not because he was nervous, but because he was hoping he’d get a head start on the Lego project.
Kids are so weird.
Once we got to the hospital and they put us back in a pre-op room, I started getting a little anxious. My baby, my precious little blond love, was going under general anesthesia, and I wasn’t excited about it. I tried to play it cool but I couldn’t stop pacing in small circles, back and forth across the tiny space.
He played the iPad and was oblivious to the world.
I kept asking him if he was nervous and did he have any questions, and his answers were the same every time: “NO.”
I, on the other hand, would’ve paid someone for a Xanax.
They came to take him back for surgery and told us we could only go with him to the OR doors; after that, we wouldn’t be able to see him until a while after surgery. We walked down the hall with him, and as we approached the doors the nurses encouraged him to say goodbye to us. He got up on his knees and hugged both me and my husband, then said, “I love you,” and laid on his back, hand crossed under his head, cruising in style to the operating room.
I bawled as soon as he was gone.
The anesthesiologist came to our room after only a few minutes and said, “Mom, he’s doing great. He was completely happy as we got him ready, and he’s asleep now. Don’t worry a thing about him — he’ll be fine.”
After an hour or so we heard some squeaky wheels rolling down the hall, and the nurse pushed my boy back into our room. He was groggy but managed to give me a smile and a thumbs up before he fell back asleep.
Which is weird, because they went to town on his throat with a scalpel.
Yesterday, one day after surgery, as he played video games while simultaneously drinking a milkshake and eating a scoop of ice cream, he declared to me, “Today is the BEST DAY of my LIFE!”
We aim high here in the Watts family, obviously.
If I hadn’t had to put on a brave face for Sutton, I think I’d have been a nervous wreck. If I hadn’t been trying to keep him calm, I’d have cried a thousand tears and hugged him and kissed his face all over before they wheeled him off to the OR (I didn’t, of course, because he’d have given me the evil eye and wiped them all away).
He was so obliviously okay with the whole deal that I had no choice but to play along.
Our kids make us brave.
As moms, we set the tone for most everything our kids experience. And we lead by example, because words alone won’t do the trick. We teach them, by how we live and how we lead them, whether or not to be afraid, to face the things that scare us. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of snakes or spiders or rollercoasters. Afraid of rejection, or maybe failure. Afraid of the future. Afraid of death.
I used to be a worrier. I wouldn’t wish anxiety on my worst enemy, and I prayed hard against it for my children. I didn’t learn to be brave until I was in my early twenties, and until then courage wasn’t a word that was in my vocabulary.
TO BE BRAVE IS TO BE AFRAID OF SOMETHING BUT TO FACE IT ANYWAY.
I want my children to walk in freedom, and I bet you do, too. We can’t just say it, though, and not model it, because their bravery, their boldness, their courage starts with us.
Do we really mean it when we tell them that God’s got them in the palm of His hand, and that He will never forsake them, not even for a second?
Do we really mean it when we tell them that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they can go anywhere and do anything for Jesus? Will we courageously and joyfully send them into the world, realizing they were never ours to begin with?
Do we model ultimate freedom from anxiety for them, walking into the valley of the shadow of death without fear because we know that He always wins and that death isn’t death at all, but just an entryway into real life?
Nothing makes us brave quite like being a mom does. The rubber meets the road when we’re influencing tiny people, and we have to decide whether we actually believe with our hearts what we say with our lips, that God will come through for us in every situation.
“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up.
Expect God to get here soon.”
Psalm 31:24 (MSG)
My kiddo taught me a few things about being brave, and I hope I teach him every day how to be the same, to walk in boldness, trusting God and walking in confidence that He is who He says He is, and that He really does have things covered.
His bravery had one unexpected payoff. He’s had a tooth that’s been migrating for a quite awhile across the front of his mouth, loose enough to travel but not loose enough to come out. About five minutes into the surgery, the anesthesiologist walked into our room and brought us said janked up tooth in a jar full of glitter and money because, apparently, the tooth fairy makes OR visits and takes kids’ teeth out before surgery when they’re really loose, so as to help avoid loose teeth falling out mid-procedure. #ThankYouToothFairy