Grandma’s View: I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up

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That infomercial became a favourite punchline, but I found out it’s not that funny!

JUST TRY TO GET INSIDE A SMALL CHILD’S MIND. It’s often a mystery. For example, my four-year-old grandson’s thought processes are very direct but somehow his parents and I often put our own spin on his words and mess things up.
Two weeks ago, I was visiting my daughter. We were going down to her basement when she had a sudden feeling that I was going to fall on the stairs. “Don’t go down. You can see the new sofa another time.” So much for premonitions because I made it safely to the bottom of the stairs.
But, as it happened, her premonition was just off in timing because, a few minutes later, I moved behind her as she made a sweeping gesture and Bang! I was on the floor. I no longer laugh at the line, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” With two bad knees, it was just too painful to put weight on them. (I challenge you to get up from the floor without using your knees.)
The little guy so much wanted to help as my daughter pulled over various chairs to see if I could get leverage. Finally, we gave up and settled down to wait for her husband to come home. He’s very strong and had me on my feet in a flash.
My grandson was very quiet, but was taking it all in. Nothing like this had ever happened before and he had clearly wanted to be able to help. And why didn’t Gammy just get up? What was the big deal?
Now, fast forward to the dinner hour. Suddenly, a little voice said, “I’ve been thinking about Gammy falling. And I’m okay with that.” How thoughtless! Everyone was embarrassed about his apparent lack of caring. But nobody reacted and we all pretended we hadn’t heard. But he was persistent. “Mommy, listen to me. About Gammy falling. You should know that I’m okay with that!” He couldn’t be ignored and his embarrassed mother said, “I’m very disappointed. How could you be okay with that?” “I’ll show you.”
He left the table and lay down on the floor. Then sprang up. “See? Gammy couldn’t get up, but if you knock me to the ground, I can get up by myself. So I’m okay with that!” We all had heard the same words, but what a different interpretation the adults attached to those words! If there’s a lesson I can learn, it’s that I won’t be so quick to judge my grandson’s words. My interpretation and his intention can be worlds apart. So I’ll do a little probing instead of making an assumption. And I’m sure my little grandson will be okay with that.

Published June 2010

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