Today's challenge was unexpected, actually beginning last night with my child's tearful complaints of a toothache. I thought I was imagining that his cheek was swollen. I tried to distract him with a few rounds of Boggle Junior before putting him to bed, but he did not sleep. Each time I looked at him, his cheek looked bigger. We stayed up most of the night , trying remedy after remedy (mouthwash, salt water, ice, vitamin C, echinacia, CoQ10) to no avail.
Finally 8am arrived, when I knew I could reach our dentist ,who had filled a cavity in the child's tooth last week. By this time, said child resembled a human chipmunk with an entire winter's supply stashed in one cheek. The dentist's receptionist said to bring him in right away.
What timing! This morning was the official judging for the "Invention Convention" at the child's school. My child was one of the youngest participants and had spent a lot of time and energy on his invention, a "Pooch Perch" which enables our Chihuahua to see out of our windows.
The visit to the dentist took forever, followed by a trip to the drugstore for penicillin and Children's Motrin. When we finally arrived at school, the judging had been completed, and they had skipped my child's entry because he hadn't been there to answer questions.
I found the director of the convention, and seeing how upset my child was, she rounded up some judges and had them judge while I stood by and watched. The child responded well to all questions at first, aptly displaying his enthusiasm for his subject. After about fifteen minutes he started to fade a bit, and finally gave out when she asked if he planned to market his product. After a painful, sleepless night followed by the stress of the dentist's visit, he had reached his limit.
These were not the words of a budding scientist. And this particular judge happened to be the personification of the "B" word.... She regarded him sternly and repeated the query: "You DON'T KNOW if you want to market this?!" she uttered, incredulous.
We were sunk, I knew it.
A better mother than I would have jumped right in at that point, explaining the events of the past twelve hours. The problem was, I too was sleep-deprived and not mentally acute. The explanation didn't even enter my mind until I was leaving the school with tears in my eyes.
I don't know whether my child passed on to the next round or not. His fading toward the end of his interview definitely didn't help. How sad it is, I thought, that we rely to such an extent upon outside approval. This is one of the first times I've realized that I need approval not only for myself, but for my child as well. And I therefore teach him to need it.
My wish is to become so secure that I am not hurt or threatened when an insult, real or imagined, is hurled; and that other people's judgments no longer determine my worth. Then I can teach that instead.