Picking my 6 year old up from school the other day, whenÂ she hands me a two foot long cardboard cut out of a gingerbread man. She tells me she has to decorate it into what she wants to be when she grows up.Â â€œOkâ€, I said, â€œWhat do you want be?â€Â
She looks up at me with a huge smile on her face, pigtails and a puffy ballet skirt on and without skipping a beat says, â€œ I want to be a Paramedic like you Mommy. And help people like you do.â€Â
Just about as quick as she answered, my mind started running rampant in a hundred different directions.Â Her sweet innocent mind knows only one side about what we do, NOT what we deal with.Â Then, the Mama-bear surfaced.Â I thought about how her innocent perspective on life and people would be forever changed if she follows in my foot steps.Â
Quickly the scenarios began rushing through my mind. Visuals of my sweet baby girl all grown-up and witnessing the â€˜real worldâ€™ that comes crawling out from under itâ€™s rocks at Oâ€™dark-thirty, while most of society safely rests their heads.Â
Do I want her to see the world as I do, or maintain ignorance to the horrible realities of life? Do I want her fearing such trivial things that most would take no note of, but medics see as death traps all around us?
Visuals of her dodging blows from an aggressive schizophrenic, being spit on by a diseased homeless person high on meth, walking blindly into a situation which appears safe, then having a knife or gun pulled on her all began blasting through my mind.
Will she know what to do? Will she freeze up and be hurt or even worse killed?Â She will feel what itâ€™s like to have a drunk describe to her the numerous disgusting ways heâ€™s going to sexually violate her as she is protecting him from himself.Â
She will wear other peoples blood, vomit, spit, and other bodily fluid on her uniform, spend days on-end with little to no sleep, often functioning like a zombie on auto-pilot.Â She will know what itâ€™s like to tell a parent they have lost their child and do her best to hide her emotions when she looks in the eyes of a child who just lost their parents.Â She will do this with pride and fear but let neither show. Â Â
All of this for a pay slightly above or just at minimum wage.Â
Do I explain to her she will likely have to live with several roommates and learn the 101 ways to make Top Ramen in order to survive?Â Or do I cool the proverbial helicopter parent engines and know she will live a career where she will never have to question her calling.Â Trusting she will figure it all out, just like we did.Â
She will change the lives of complete strangers, never realizing how grateful they are or the level of impact her compassion was during their moments of darkness and fear.Â A path of little pay, but a enormous contribution.Â
Though she is too young to warn of the emotional scars she will voluntarily commit to or the traumas and images she will carry for the rest of her life, I can share with her the amazing things she will experience that very few other occupations could provide.Â Â
I can describe to her the heart warming role she will play when she delivers a baby for the first time.Â The indescribable feeling when she resuscitates a code. The feeling of accomplishment when she sees the look of relief in the eyes of a respiratory distress patient when sheâ€™s brought their breathing back to normal.Â The Words of Wisdom she will receive from a 95 year old widow who tells how she survived 65 years with the same man then in the next breath, tells a joke dirty enough to make the most seasoned Medic blush.
I can try to describe to her the extended family she will gain as she creates an indescribable bond with her partner, crew and department as they work together though unimaginable situations.
Do I deny her these incredible experiences and try to lead her down a selfish path, worrying about her safety, financial stability and innocence?Â
Nah! Instead I will raise her to be a strong, confident woman who is prepared for challenges, defines her own limits, focuses on what is right and lives a life full of stories, lessons, and hurdles which she can be proud of.Â