It’s the little things sometimes. The things that take you by surprise – and you suddenly regret you didn’t teach your kids.

Like when you realize in the middle of a wedding ceremony your son doesn’t know how to whisper, and suddenly everyone knows he needs to do a wee (or worse).

Or, when you  hear a story of a youngster who died because she didn’t learn to heed her father yell, “STOP!” as she approached a fizzing, sparking power cable. And suddenly you are teaching your precious ones how important that little word can be.

Or maybe noticing that particular pitch of fun and laughter in your children and their friends, which signals an injury is just around the corner.

Those little things can be life-changing . . .

Swallow This!

When my nephew Sam was young, he had to go to hospital. He had medical issues most of his life, and this happened during one in a long series of visits.

It’s not unusual for children in his situation to dread trips to the hospital. Every person dressed in a white hospital gown wants something: to poke for blood or prod you for obs;  to get your wee; to sit up, lie still, or poke your tongue out. It all gets a bit much, understandably!

On this day, someone in white approached Sam with another request. “I want you to swallow this,” she said brightly.

The white tablet in the little cup looked innocent enough. But could he get that thing down his throat? No way!

Little Things make all the Difference

Sam gagged at first. The she cut it in half, and it tasted terrible. She added it to jam – still no success.

Time after time, various members of staff helped as Sam very bravely attempted to get that medication into his little body. And time after time it came back up again. Little things like this can soon end up in tears. It all felt hopeless, and it wasn’t just Sam who was struggling not to howl. The medication was important, and he couldn’t go home until it was safely inside his stomach.

Finally, a new nurse came on shift. Summing up the situation in a few minutes, she quietly came over to Sam, held out the tablet to him, and explained what to do in a way he could understand.

To everyone’s relief (especially Sam’s) it went down first time.

This all happened years ago.


Fast Forward to a New Decade

When my daughter Hilary was 20 years old, she went to a specialist to talk through some health concerns, and suddenly she had vitamin tablets and capsules to swallow with every meal.

“I’m so glad you taught me how to swallow peas when I was little,” she said at breakfast one day, as she gulped down the next lot of tablets.

It took me by surprise. I had forgotten we’d done that. It was something I taught her because of Sam’s traumatic story. When she was a pre-schooler, I asked her to try swallowing a couple of whole peas or corn kernels whenever they were on her dinner plate. She got quite good at it, and it became her happy little party trick for a while.

She was a bit sad though. “Some of my friends still can’t do it,” she reflected.

Yes. It’s the little things sometimes.

Do you find there are little things you wish you’d taught your kids? Or other skills that you deliberately got them good at, with great success?

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