On March 24, 2019, Lisa wanted to go to Cades Cove. I should begin by saying, this is not one of my favorite locations. As a man who loves technology and needs something to do at all times, Cades Cove is a little rough for me.
With that said, it’s a beautiful place that has wonderful trails to hike, places to go mountain biking, picnic areas, glorious mountain views, places to ride horses, and a shop to buy ice cream. So I acknowledge it’s a great place even if it’s not a great place for me.
Anywho, back to the story. We all had a great time at Cades Cove, even me. We had a nice drive down while Zoey slept in the backseat. Lisa got her zen moment of me not talking or playing music while we cruised through the mountains with the sunroof wide open.
When we got there, we easily found a parking space. The weather was perfect that day. Not too hot and not too cold, just like baby bear’s tiny bowl of porridge. (Side Note: I still think it’s messed up that Goldilocks thought it was okay to trespass and eat their porridge).
We got to walk around the creek, where Zoey had fun looking for fish and throwing rocks in the water. We walked around the campground and then made our way back to the store to buy ice cream cones. We ate ours in the campground amphitheater. Zoey found a tiny log cabin she could hang out in.
Cades Cove has a loop road that’s fun to drive. It’s a one way road where everyone goes super slowly. It’s the kind of road where kids can pile into the back of pickup trucks and toddlers get to ride in the front seat with their parents. The whole loop is about 11 miles. Along the way there are historic buildings and churches to stop and explore.
One of the largest areas to stop is the grist mill. Instead of just one building, there is a whole little community to visit. There’s an old family house and barns and of course the mill itself. It’s pretty impressive to see how well everything has been preserved.
Now the bad thing about a place stuck back in time is that everything is made of wood… pokey, splintery, sharp edged wood. The other bad thing is that kids love to climb and my kid is no exception.
So right at the end of the trip Zoey climbed on something. We aren’t sure exactly what got her, but somehow she hit the mother of all splintered wood and ended up with 4 splinters in her right hand.
The poor girl’s hand became very tender and we decided it was a good time to start heading home.
We drove home and came up with a plan to try to get the splinters out. I went to the store and got some tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and a few small toys to give her something to look forward to while we worked on removing her splinters.
It should be noted that I recently read an article about the importance of telling your kids to be brave rather than telling them not to be scared.
The article laid out a perfectly logical explanation which made sense to me at the time. Surprisingly it reminded me of something I had heard Mike Tyson’s trainer Cus D’Amato say a long time ago which is probably why I even remembered what the article said at all.
Cus basically said that a trainer can tell a fighter to not be scared but a fighter will always be scared anyway. Fear is a natural response and is a part of everyone. Because of this, Cus always told the fighter to use their fear. Fear makes you extremely alert. It motivates you to train harder. Therefore, you can use fear to your advantage.
Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it, you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it, it’ll destroy you and everything around you.
The article basically said when your kid is scared of something like going to the doctor or you know, getting four splinters removed from her hand with tweezers, tell her to be brave because it’s natural for her to feel scared. You can’t let fear stop you if it’s something that needs to be done.
When the time came for Lisa and me to remove the splinters I caught myself telling Zoey not to be scared when she clearly wasn’t interested in our efforts to help her. So I thought to myself, “Hey, you just said don’t be scared, you’re not supposed to say that. Now is the perfect time to encourage her to be brave.”
From then on I encouraged her to be brave while Lisa removed the splinters and I tried my best to distract Zoey from what was happening. It wasn’t a fun experience by any means, but it was productive. Lisa did a great job getting splinters out of the hand of an unhappy toddler.
However, it’s funny what sticks in a little kid’s head. Since that night, I haven’t had many opportunities to tell her to be brave. But she has found many opportunities to encourage me to be brave.
Like when I’m doing dishes and she asks me, “Daddy, do you want to play with me?” Then I say, “I’m sorry honey, I’m in the middle of doing dishes.” Then Zoey will look me directly in the eyes and say, “Daddy, you have to be brave, come on.” How am I supposed to say no to that?!?! Not only am I letting her down by not playing with her but, now I’m a chicken, too?
Or what about this clever move? We will be sitting on the couch watching TV. Zoey suddenly decides she wants her blankie. Then she’ll ask me, “Daddy, will you go get Blankie?” To which I reply, “You go get it, you’re just as capable as me.” To which she replies, “Daddy, you must be brave.” What? Now you’re making me look like I’m too scared to get Blankie and that’s why I’m not going?
What should have been a great psychological trick on my part, meant to motivate her later in life, ended up being used to manipulate me into playing with her when I’m clearly in the middle of something and basically turning me into her own personal butler.
The moral of the story is that toddlers are master manipulators and I have been bested. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t think it’s hilarious. Kudos to you Zoey, you win this round. Game on…