Popular Cliches Translated

McCloskey

Say What?!

Sometimes the really nice thing you meant to say, isn’t what I heard at all.  If you just used a cliché, that’s probably especially true.  It, in all honesty, is a two-part problem.

First there’s me. I’m what Ellen over at Love that Max, calls a warrior mom.  Nearly all mom’s battle for their kids; special need moms battle for their kids almost every day.  That makes me a little defensive.  Then throw in that the reason my son has special needs is because my body failed him.  (That’s not guilt speaking.  That’s truth.  Owen was born more than 15 weeks early because my body failed at being pregnant.)  This truth adds some fragility to my mindset.  Whether I know clichés are intended as good or not, there is always this part of my mind that also sees the negative in them.

The other part of the problem is that clichés have become…well… very cliché.  They are used when people don’t know what else to say.  So, they pull out something they’ve heard before and hope it fits.  At best they are empty words.  At worst, if you really think about the words that are in clichés, they often say exactly the opposite of what is truly meant.

So here it is, my really honest breakdown of some of the most frequently used clichés and my positive and negative interpretations of them.

Cliché:  “He just wanted to come early, didn’t he?”

What I am pretty sure you meant:  “Wow, he was incredibly early.  It’s really hard to wrap my head around a baby this small.  This is scary but I’m going to keep up my hope for you.”

What I couldn’t help but hear:  “This is all his fault.”

Cliché:  “This kid has really put you guys through the wringer, hasn’t he?”

What I am pretty sure you meant:  “Your family has been going through an unbelievably difficult time.  I don’t understand why these things happen, but I hope it gets better for you soon.”

What I couldn’t help but hear:  “He is bad”

Cliché:  “When I’m having a tough day, I just think about you guys and know I have a lot to be thankful for.”

What I’m pretty sure you meant:  “I really admire your strength and positive attitude through this difficult time.  You’re a great example of finding the good, even during the hard times.”

What I couldn’t help but hear:  “Your life sucks.  I wouldn’t want to be you.”

Cliché:  “This has been a real roller coaster ride, hasn’t it?”

What I’m pretty sure you meant:  “Your family has been through a lot of ups and downs.  I hope it’s more ups than downs soon.”

What I couldn’t help but hear:  “Wahoo, let’s go to Six Flags!”

Cliché:  “These things happen for a reason.”

What I’m pretty sure you meant:  “I don’t know why these things happen, but I do believe you have the power to make the best out of a difficult situation.”

What I couldn’t help but hear:  “Your son is the sacrificial lamb of a lesson you needed to learn”

I’m sorry if I just rained on anybody’s parade of best lines to use when someone is going through a difficult time.  It’s important to emphasize that I have zero ill feelings towards anyone that has said any of these phrases to me.  I do understand it’s hard to know what to say and I can interpret the positive intentions.  To make it even trickier, this is MY list.  We all have our own list.  Here is one Jessi wrote over at Life with Jack (I agree with many of hers, by the way).

You’re probably reading this and thinking, “but what should I say?”  Here’s my advice 1) say something and 2) make it come from your heart.  What comes from your heart may be, “I have no words.”  And that’s okay.  I’m 21 months in and just at the beginning of finding some words on this specific subject.  It’s hard to know what to say.  However, I know I couldn’t have done it without so many wonderful family, friends and strangers with supportive words and actions that came from their heart.  The heart is always wiser than a cliché.

 

A letter from Preemie Families

Dear Friends and Family,

Truth is, it makes me really uncomfortable to ask you to wash your hands when you enter the house.  I hate that I have to ask if you have had your flu shot and are up to date on your TDaP (pertussis) vaccination.  I am just as upset that I have to cancel at the last minute because someone in your family, or our family, has the sniffles.  Actually, because we have limited exposure with the outside world, I’m probably even more disappointed to miss your company.

The last thing I want is for you to feel unwelcome in our home or in any way put out because I notice when you sneeze into your hand and then try to touch my son’s hand.  And do you know what?  In most cases, I agree with you when you say that colds are just a normal part of life.  I know you think I’m paranoid.  I understand that it’s embarrassing to be asked about your hygiene. I know your suggestions about immunity building are well-meaning.

I also must tell you, I hear your exasperated sighs and see your all-knowing eye-rolls at my requests.  When you respond begrudgingly, my embarrassment dissipates and is replaced with anger.  It makes me really angry that you could put your pride in your cleanliness and healthfulness over the life of this child.

what a medically fragile child looks like

You see, Owen is doing remarkably well and has overcome so much in his 20 months of life.  He is so much better than six months or a year ago, but the fact is, he is still a medically fragile child.

This week there have been so many top news stories about the thousands of Americans in the hospital right now due to the Flu.  In Minnesota, one healthy teen has died and another is struggling to live.  As a parent who has watched my child fight to live, my heart breaks for the parents of these children.

At the same time, I am alarmed for my family.

You’ve asked in the past how you can help our family.  The biggest way you can help is this:

  1. When we make plans to see each other, volunteer that you received your flu shot more than two weeks ago.
  2. When you arrive at my house, greet me and the baby and say, “I can’t wait to hold you, as soon as I get my hands washed”.

That’s it.  Those two simple steps will make me feel more support than any other gift you can give.

Maybe, like some say, “paranoid” is the correct word, but really, I don’t care.  I’m just trying to do the best I can for my son.  He won’t always be medically fragile, and while he is, I hope you’ll bear with my requests and support and respect my best efforts to love and care for this child who we all want to see succeed.

Thank you for your understanding, and sticking by our family during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

A Preemie Family

Picture14

Click Image to Pin on Pinterest