I learned a phrase in high school French class that means "these little bruises." I remember it as les onges petits. Except it turns out that may not mean what I think it means (or anything at all) because I can't verify it online.
And anything not verifiable online is definitely not true.
The phrase came to mind a few weeks ago while I held my crying baby. I had just firmly told her no to something little- a small misbehavior, a whiny demand, or some such little thing. It was the kind of misdemeanor I can't even remember anymore just a short time later. I won't soon forget, though, the way her eyes cast down, her lip turned out, and those small, almond-shaped eyes filled with tears.
One look told me she wasn't playing the situation, she was genuinely hurt. My baby is an old soul, and a kind one, and she is gentle to those around her and sensitive to small things. I love that about her.
I'm relatively new to motherhood, but not to discipline or judgment calls. Consistency comes easily to me and Cabbage, and our child and our animals live with clear behavioral boundaries and expectations they are taught to understand. With my child, as with the many horses in my life, I've learned that sometimes I need to hold the line, force the issue, and harden my heart. Winning the small battles means there may not be a war. Other times, though, there is no battle; there is just another soul to understand, another method that should be tried, another path that would be better to take.
These judgment calls are never-ending with my baby, and they're the most important ones I've ever made. I want to be her parent, her guide, and eventually her friend. I need to be her disciplinarian, her rule-setter, and her enforcer. I don't want her to someday face an addiction, a bad relationship, or a dangerous situation without knowing what she can do and to whom she can turn. And yes, I think all these little daily interactions absolutely lay the foundation for those larger life decisions.
I weigh all those things every time I make a decision affecting her, and I do my best to make them mindfully. That's why I looked down at Beep, her tears spilling over, and my breath caught in my throat. I picked her up, held her close, and soothed her. I didn't need to make my point that time, I needed to love her sensitive, generous, big, wide-open heart.
"Les onges petits?" I asked her. These little bruises?
"Yeah," she sniffed in her little voice.
"I love you, Baby. Hold Mama."