When Moses is going through a difficult treatment (e.g., IV needle insertion), we often tell him that he’s brave and strong to encourage him.
He tells us, “Don’t call me brave. I’m not brave.”
I can understand why — I think that it makes him feel that he can’t be vulnerable, if he needs to be vulnerable. If he needs to cry and scream and kick.
It reminds me of the time when he was just shy of three years old and I called him “crazy” (when he was acting extra rambunctious). In response, he told me that he wasn’t crazy. “I’m just me”. No less, no more. No need for labels.
Still, he has been incredibly brave during these last 10 days.
To give you an example, he had a huge abscess on his armpit that was drained under general anesthetic. The doctors originally thought it was a swollen lymph node, but it turned out to be a huge abscess. It was so huge that they packed the cavity with approximately 7 ft of wick during the procedure. They don’t want to abscess to close over before the internal cavity shrinks in size, so every day, they need to remove the wick and then reinsert a new piece of wick, as much as they can (~1 to 1.5 ft), into the open wound with tweezers.
Imagine that — this is in his armpit — where there are so many nerve endings, where most people are so sensitive to touch under normal circumstances. He is six years old. This will likely need to continue for weeks before the cavity heals (a community health nurse will be coming to our house every day). Not fun at all.
During the first two days, he understandably fought the procedure. On the first two days, two adults were needed to hold him down, while the nurse removed and re-inserted new wick. On the third day, he understandably started to protest and we tried to reason with him that the nurse had to do it so that he could get better.
I saw this resolve come over his face, and he went into a zone. I went to hold down his arms and saw that he wasn’t fighting. He was holding himself still, his arms in place so that the nurse could do what she needed to do. He vocalized, “ow, ow, ow, ow, ow” the entire time, but not in an intense way. He was soothing himself and using it as a mantra — something for him to focus on, very similar to a technique that I used when I was giving birth to him.
After the procedure, it was completely done for him. He went back to playing his game like nothing happened.
I know that he doesn’t like us to use the word brave, but he is seriously the bravest individual that I know.