I am something of a mommy magpie: I keep a beady eye out for excellent mommy tricks, and when I see a shiny-mommy-skill, I nab it.
I confess to nabbing all sorts of tips to put in my mommy-bag-of-tricks: I thieve tips from online mamas, friend mamas, my own mama, stranger-in-the-park mamas, literary mamas. And Claire Huxtable. She gets her own category.
My mama-toolbelt is stuffed with pilfered mommy tricks, all nicked from other clever mamas. Except for one mama trick, which yours truly stumbled on all by myself. It has become one of the most used weapons in my maternal armory. I call it the “how many kisses” tool. It works particularly well for the 2-6 age group, and is useful for any of those situations where there are preschooler tears for not-so-serious injuries (they are called “owies” in our family)
Here is how it works: wailing toddler runs into the kitchen brandishing his freshly bumped finger. I triage the injury and assess it to be not-band-aid-worthy. However, seeking to acknowledge the hurt and appease the wailing, I give my kid some options (because options are the holy grail of parenting small kids, right?) and so I say:
“Owie! I’m sorry that happened to you! Do you think that needs two kisses or three?”
Thoughtful kiddo considers his injury. If he’s feeling brave, he takes two. If he is still smarting, he chooses three. But WITHOUT FAIL, the wailing stops, and after the chosen number of kisses have been administered, he runs off smiling again.
For some reason, the choice of number of kisses works better than just saying “let me kiss it better”, which is sometimes construed by savvy preschoolers as being brushed off (because that’s exactly what it is).
But getting to choose the number of kisses works! Oh it works! My kids feel their hurt was duly acknowledged, and the moment is over. For worse bumps and bruises, I sometimes offer ice and/or kisses. My 3 year old will now sometimes run in and let me know what he needs right off the bat: “I bonked my head and I need ice and FIVE KISSES!!” Oh honey, ice and five kisses coming right up.
P.s. one more extra add-on to this trick. My eldest is a little more
theatrical sensitive, and sometimes the crying is not done by the time the healing kisses have been administered. In those circumstances I usually play my trump card: the mistaken kiss. Either I give one too many kisses and then insist that I gave too many and try to snatch one back, or I kiss the wrong place and say “oh no! That’s not where the owie was!”, and pretend to snatch the kiss back from the wrong place before delivering the final kiss to the site of the owie. Somehow, the snatched kiss always gets a giggle. It hasn’t failed me once yet.
So there you go, mama magpies. If you think my trick is shiny, feel free to put it in your bag. Because you know I’ve got my eye on your shiny tricks too….