I have thought about this a LOT. But I bristle when people tell me that my children are resilient (our survivor and his younger brother). “He will be fine. He won’t remember anything. Kids are so resilient.” Someone, usually someone who has not walked in these shoes (thank God), would say it to me while L was experiencing a painful procedure or especially rough round of chemo or C was acting out because he missed us and there was no routine. No one ever physically patted me on the arm while saying this, but they might as well have. “Kids are resilient” is like the trauma version of “Bless your heart!”
Children are NOT resilient. Resilience is looking fear in the face and carrying on anyway. Children are not yet afraid. They do not know how to be resilient. What children are is fearless, in the truest sense of the word. They have no fear. Look into the eyes of a 4 yr old boy about to jump off the top step or soar through the air from the swings. He is fearless. He wants to fly! If he is afraid, it is because we have taught him to be careful, to fear the potential consequences.
Children have an inborn sense of JUSTICE, of fairness, of what is right and true. They know what is right and what is wrong and what is normal. And they will fight to do what is normal. They want to be.kids.
One of L’s nurses is in this #NursesWeek video from Mott. Listen carefully to Nurse Pam at the 7:15 mark:
Kids are kids first. And sick kids second. Or third or fourth. They’re really not interested in being sick. They’re really just here being kids. They want to go to the playroom.
Thank you Nurse Pam, and many others at Mott, who really saw our son and our family. You modeled resilience for us. You see people at their most vulnerable and you still care. You held our hands, you let us cry with you. And then you came back the next day and did it again. You are resilient.
This quote was posted in Quiet Revolution, LLC’s Facebook page:
To which I responded: “Too often we make resilience shiny. It isn’t. Resilience is dirty. It’s hard work. It’s a choice we make, usually without fanfare or notice from others.” Susan Cain herself liked it. And then she favorited my tweet about it. (Yeah, I was geeking out about it!)
Making resilience shiny puts it on a pedestal and thus harder to achieve. If resilience is perfect and out there, then it is for other people. Don’t do that. Don’t put distance between yourself and resilience. That is a huge disservice to you and your story.
Resilience is: modeled, learned, chosen, and practiced. You don’t do it once and it sticks. It is a constant re-learning and re-choosing. Getting up once doesn’t make you resilient; and failing once or twice doesn’t make you not resilient. Resilience is a lifelong journey, an opportunity to choose growth over defeat, light over darkness, joy over suffering.
So no, my children are not resilient. They are fearless. I will learn that from them. They will learn resilience from me.