Today I had a kiddo come down to my office in full out tears. I immediately thought the worst when I saw the reaction and heard that he had taken a fall on the cement. My mind flew into panic mode — had he taken a header? Was something broken? I ushered him into my sick room, sat him up on the cot, and assessed the situation as tears rolled down his little cheeks. My eyes quickly fell onto the problem at hand — a scrape on the knee, and a stinging hand from breaking his fall. I rerouted plans of attack and slipped into my “keep it casual and keep the mind distracted” mode…. I cleaned him up, put on a heavy duty bandaid, and helped him wash his hands of chalk and stinginess (I promise that’s a word!). The tears were gone, the words were flowing, and his mind was in a totally different place. The topper on the cake? We went out the “secret passageway” to get back out to recess. I watched him rejoin his friends like nothing had ever happened, and as I turned around and walked back to my desk I thought of what the remedy that I had just provided can look like for adults in our times of crisis.
Throughout our days and weeks and month, we are constantly encountering figurative scrapes on our knees. And like it or not, we can sometimes react as if our heads are cut open. I imagine the people in our lives might find themselves trying to maneuver like I was this afternoon, not quite knowing the depth of the problem or the severity of the situation, but trying to anticipate what we may need. I know that I can come home from a long day and be the grouchiest grouch ever to David, and he can quickly go into recover and assist mode, attempting to gauge my level of need. Sometimes I feel incapacitated by the situation, no matter how minor it may seem. And those are the times that I need him to pick up all of the slack, and grant me the grace to just be a mushy lump around the house.
But sometimes it just takes a metaphorical bandaid and helping me to wash my hands to take the sting out of the day.
This can look so different for so many things. But it may just be a hug, and an “I’m sorry that today was so hard,” or allowing me to take control of the TV to watch whatever silly video I want to watch at that moment. Then come the helping suggestions — offering to make dinner, offering to take a walk, being there for me to complain/cry/sit in silence with.
Depending on where you are at in your life, literally and figuratively, this bandaid can look like so many things. It’s a text or funny GIF that a friend sends when you are feeling so inexplicably frustrated that you feel like the dam of tears may burst at any moment. Or it may be a coffee that is gifted to you, or someone stopping by just to check in.
Life hands us big things sometimes. Sometimes life truly can hand us a giant bag of crap. (Crap Bag. It’s a bag. Of crap. — can anyone name that reference???) And if we are incapable of throwing it in the trash ourselves, we might just need someone to hold on to the other side and toss it in with us. It’s the friends that are willing to get their hands on a bag of crap for you that are the ones that are going to stick around. The ones that sit beside you when you are low, no matter what you are low about, are the ones that are going to jump for joy next to you when you are feeling those highs of life.
Sometimes we need a medic and a splint. Sometimes we just need that bandaid and a hand washing. And that is okay to need both.
It’s okay to ASK FOR all of it.
Sometimes we feel like we can’t ask for these things that we so deeply desire and require, and I’m just kind of at the place in my life where I’m over feeling like that. Say what you need to say, the wise and talented prophet John Mayer beautifully says… And I am living the life of saying what I need to say especially when it comes to what I need as a bandaid and some TLC. We can’t always ask people to anticipate our every need. And sure, sometimes they will be pretty spot on at anticipating these needs, and sometimes it will be that fix that does the trick. But it may take a little work on our part to make those needs known.
AND GUESS WHAT?
Those needs change from moment to moment. I’m sure that if the fall had been a degree more intense, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get that kiddo by with just a bandaid and a hand washing. An ice pack may have been needed in that situation. And that would have been totally fine. Because the next time that I have a hiccup or a run-in with this crazy life that we find ourselves bumbling through, I’m going to want some tender love and care from someone (even if it’s myself!) — and that may look drastically different if it happens on a Monday vs. a Thursday. Or knowing me, 8:30am vs. 3:30pm!
My long and winding road of a point is this:
When it comes to what you need in order to get back on track from a personal derailment, ASK. FOR. IT. If you need it, ask for it.
And if you are asked for it, give it as best as you can. Because you never know what a huge impact it will make in someone’s state of being.
…Like for example when I later had to sit with a kindergartner and listen as they pointed out the “meat” of a dog in a book (after he had thrown up and was waiting to go home). You just never know what someone is going to need in their time of distress. ;P