By Kris McFalls
Leading by example: it’s a great piece of advice and way of life. I’ve tried to do that with my kids. Encouraging them to learn about their own disease and be willing to talk about it with others. I taught them that talking with others not only increases awareness, it keeps them healthier because friends don’t expose immune deficient friends when they are sick; at least in theory. My kids know the name of their disease, can rattle off their medications and dose, can say the words gamma globulin three times fast, and know to dial 911 then mom in case of an emergency. When it comes to their health, there really isn’t much I don’t know about my kids. But, as I recently found out, leading by example means do as I do, not do as I teach.
My youngest son, Keegan came home for a precious few days after his most recent semester at Brigham Young University before he was to start his summer job in Utah. Not wanting to lose a minute of the time we had together, I asked Keegan to accompany me on a routine rheumatology appointment. Not only did Keegan readily agree, he actually went into the appointment with me. It was a strange reversal of roles when my son started asking the doctor several questions. I would like to think his main concern was me, but what he really wanted to know was, “Are her problems genetic?”
The drive to our next stop started a bit quiet. Both of us were obviously contemplating the role reversal and the knowledge we had both just attained. After a few minutes, I started to apologize to Keegan. I told him, “Gosh, Keeg, I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize you had so many questions.” To which my quick witted son replied, “I didn’t realize you had so many problems!”
A mother’s first instinct is clear: protect your children at all costs! I thought I was protecting mine by not worrying them. I justified it by thinking Keegan is away at college, there was nothing he could do in an emergency situation anyway. I fooled myself into thinking I was protecting him from worry so he could concentrate on his studies. The role reversal, however, forced me to look at things from a different angle. What if something happened to me? I have no spouse, I live alone with two dogs, who would my doctors call if there was a problem? The dogs are cute, but, they have no opposable thumbs, they couldn’t answer the phone. I do have my boys both highlighted in my cell phone as ICE, in case of emergency, but what would my boys tell them? It was at that point I realized it was time to open up. My boys are full grown men and perfectly capable of handling anything life throws at them. My attempts to keep Keegan from worrying about me actually made him worry more.
I’ve always felt my boys have taught me more about life than I could teach them. Keegan taught me a very good lesson about myself that day. He taught me to walk my talk and lead by example.
Have you learned to lead by example with your family and friends? Scroll down to leave a comment about this blog.