The first thing that happens is you hear a really big thump, which is the unmistakable sound of 40 pounds of human hitting the floor or the wall. The second thing that happens is silence. Now pay attention – the length of the silence will be in proportion to the seriousness of the injury.
The longer the silence, the worse it is. A short silence and you might as well stay sitting down. Anything longer than 2 seconds and you better move.
The third thing that happens is the screaming. Ah yes, the screaming. This too can serve as an indication. The particular timbre of the scream lets you know if this is a typical nothing-to-see-here kind of injury or if it requires an interruption of our regularly scheduled programming.
One thing that is tough about tending to injured kids is that usually you can’t do anything about the pain they are feeling. You rub the spot, kiss it, get their blankie, ask them what happened, and generally try to distract them. But when it’s a quasi-serious injury and the pain is pretty bad, I find myself scrambling for ever-better ways to comfort.
About a year ago, during one of these little incidents and in a moment of inspiration, I said to my son, “You know, I hurt myself like that too when I was a kid, and I remember how much it hurt.” Amazingly, this seemed to have a notably positive effect on him.
“Really, Daddy? You did this too?” he said, the crying turning to sniffling.
Encouraged by my unexpected success, I piled it on: “Oh yeah, tons of times. It hurt like crazy!”
And so this quickly became one of my go-to comforting techniques. Hit your head on the kitchen counter as you ran by? Done that. Fall off your chair during supper because you can’t possibly sit still or properly like a normal human being? I did that so much my parent didn’t think I’d ever sit with two cheeks on a chair. Fall off your bike? Mmmhmm – more times than I can count. Knee yourself in the chin while landing a leaping somersault? I know allll about it, kiddo. And on and on.
Soon enough, it was my son Jackson prompting me, in the midst of his pain, “Daddy did you do this when you were a kid?”
It’s almost like kids have a longing to know that the one they see as the strongest, smartest, and best person was once just like them and has experienced the same things they are going through. It’s almost like knowing the one who cares for us has shared our pain helps with that very pain. I wonder if we really ever grow out of that?
The more I think about it, the more I think we do not. And that is probably part of the reason why Hebrews 4:15 is such a cherished and oft-quoted verse:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
We still long to know that the One who cares for us knows what it’s like to be us; knows what it’s like to be bone-weary, to cry from joy and from a broken heart, to be misunderstood, to disappoint others, to be hated, and to be loved. To be human, and in this world. To be such as us, in such a place as this.
This knowledge brings comfort to children of all ages, even gray-haired ones. And such shared experience fosters intimacy in any relationship.
That is one of the many world-changing wonders of the incarnation.