A First Time for Everything

Maya had three new experiences this week. The first was an ice cream headache, while eating a chocolate icy in the backseat of the car. The look on her face was priceless. What is this scrunchy head feeling? Why has my delicious dessert betrayed me so? A few days later her foot fell asleep. Or at least that is what we assumed was going on when she got out of the car, collapsed to the floor and looked at us with a confused and horrified look on her face. There is something wrong with my foot, that look said. And it is your fault, mommy!

Yesterday, while rolling around in a grassy field, Maya got her very first bee sting. 

Maya is both fascinated and terrified of bugs. She will often stop playing to point out a cute ant or an odd looking beetle. (One of these times she was standing by a tree and called me over to point out a couple of ants that were carrying a crumb. She then proceeded to have a closer look, upon which she realized that she was actually standing in a pile of about 100 ants. She squealed, jumped ten feet into the air and burst into tears. No one likes to be surprised.) But she has always been most afraid of bees.

We did not purposely throw Maya into a field of swarming yellow jackets to see what would happen. Bee stings hurt. And they are a bit scary. That being said, we now know Maya is not allergic to bees. And she knows that the thing she has always been afraid of is actually, not all that bad.

You may look tough but you are no
match for Maya's right hand!
When you are a parent you make a lot of fuss over your baby's firsts. The first word. The first steps.  The first poop in the potty. Then your child gets older and it become about her first day of preschool, her first loose tooth, her first school dance, her first (gasp!) kiss. If you are far more organized than me, you write them all down in a scrapbook with photos and cutesy mementos. (I am a bad mommy, I did none of this.)

Celebrating these big moments are a wonderful part of being a parent. But there are other firsts that are just as important, even though they are not nearly as much fun. In addition to the attack of the bees, this year Maya had her first altercation with a bully. She had her feelings hurt for the first time by the mean words of her very best friend. One of her classmates had his first broken arm.

Sure we could keep Maya indoors, away from all bugs. We could make sure she never climbs higher than the sofa. We could leap into her conversations at the first sign of trouble. We could hover over her so completely and cling to her so tightly than she never has any firsts that are not wonderful.

We could do that but it would be an insult to her. She is a human being, perfectly capable of solving her own problems, not a piece of fragile china that needs to be bubble wrapped and stored in a cool dry place. And besides, we'd be fighting a losing battle. Kids pick on other kids. Broken bones and boo boos happen. Some day, years and years from now, a boy is going to break her heart. (That poor poor boy. He will wake up one day and have to figure out who choked him out.)  It is all of these moments put together, the good and the bad, that make her Maya. The good ones are reasons to throw a party. The bad ones hurt, but teach her important lessons. And hey, why not have a "Successfully stopped a kid from picking on me" party? Why not get an ice cream treat for bravely surviving your first bee sting? Why not celebrate all the milestones?

I am not saying we should purposely put Maya in dangerous situations, just so she can overcome them. I don't want her to ever be hurt, or scared. But she is going to be. So while we are making a note of the first day she flashed that angelic baby grin, photographing the chocolate frosting face on her first birthday and Tweeting about her cartwheels, lets not forget the first time she rolled on top of a bee and lived to tell about it.

She won't.


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