Old MacDonald – Turning Tears Into Smiles Since 2013
Children Cry. I know that may not be a shocker to any of you, but headline news: Children Cry. They do. They cry a lot, especially when they’re tiny parcels of newness and milky smells. Babies cry when they’re hungry, when they need a change, when they’re windy, when they’re generally Awake. And children cry often for pretty much the same reasons, plus added extras of “I fell over and it ouched me“, “I wanted the purple plate not the blue plate“, “You turned the hoover off“, and other equally logical or illogical reasons. They’re little Humans, after all. They cry, a lot. But, when you find a way to turn those tears into smiles…that’s when you start to feel invincible.
My son TD is four-and-a-half years old. Four-and-a-half years of this tsunami wrapped in the body of a little boy, all blonde hair and spark and reckless unlimited energy. At the start of those years though, I had ZERO idea about the crying. None. Like, whatever. I didn’t know Babies, ok? I didn’t understand that they cried. And cried. And cried.
TD did, anyway. Especially after his baths. He loved his baths with every fibre of his being. Getting Out was, in his eyes, tantamount to child abuse. It was in this time, These Dark Times Of Constant Crying, that I discovered Old MacDonald and its effects upon my son.
Instantaneous quietness. And I MEAN instantaneous. No matter in what medium – sung by me, sung by another person, on YouTube, sung by a toy – Old MacDonald would stop the tears. It was like MAGIC. I could be a superhero, just by opening my mouth or pushing a button. Baby crying? Apply Old MacDonald. Crying stops. And, as he grew, Old MacDonald also turned those tears into smiles.
Obviously, these days the tears aren’t triggered (too often) by simply getting out of the bath. He’s an active kid – possibly one of the most active (gah) – and always has been. Luckily for us, I grew up on the farm that my parents still own. We’ve spent so much time on the farm with TD, exploring and discovering. He’s got to see Old MacDonald come to life right in front of him. Not only is it great to get outside with him, but he learns so much about life and this world, all through the farm.
Goats, sheep, cows, horses, chickens, cats, dogs. TD has been lucky enough to see the lot. He’s fed them, stroked them, played with them, and helped look after them more times than it’s possible to count. The farm, the animals, Old MacDonald, they’re all PART of him.
He charges around that farm like he owns the place. He knows What Goes Where, and Who Does What, and When. He takes his toys, and creates entire worlds from his imagination – worlds where we scramble over hay bales, dunk under fences, hide behind trees, and balance on high ledges. But, he’s still a little boy. He takes risks, and makes mistakes, and yep, we’ve had our fair share of bumps, cuts, grazes, scrapes, and bruises. Our fair share of tears and cuddles and kissing the ouch better. And guess what? Old MacDonald STILL turns those tears into smiles.
But, we don’t solely rely on Old MacDonald. We never have, because we can’t rely on a song forever. It’d be a bit weird if, come his mid-20s, TD is soothing his heartbreak to the melodic strains of Little Baby Bum on YouTube. Falling down and having your heart broken are definitely both important parts of growing up, and whilst I’ve got the heartbreak issue covered, I’ve not yet set down my advice on how to turn “scraped knee” tears into smiles. So here it is, and, Future TD…thank you for helping to teach us.
HOW WE TURN TEARS INTO SMILES
PROVIDE SAFETY & SECURITY
You don’t have to baby-proof every single thing in the house, or smother your kid with a blindly thick blanket of suffocating love. But feeling safe and secure is vital to their little heads. Just ask Maslow – safety is thought to be a fundamental human need. For kids, it can be as simple as the fact that you are there. Their mummy, their daddy, is there. There to love them, protect them, and pay them the same level of attention and care as any adult would deserve, and more! If TD is ever scared, or upset after a fall, or both!, we remind him that we are there. And then bring on the cuddles. Oh, the cuddles.
LET HIM EXPLORE
TD is a tough little thing, and incredibly brave. I like to think that’s because from the very start we let him Go. We let him explore, and take risks (obviously not ridiculous ones), and learn. He’s very aware of his capabilities, and his limits, but also that if he tries he could achieve. It means that when he does have an “ouch” (as he calls minor injuries), he bounces back from tears into smiles so quickly.
PLASTERS & PLAYING DOCTOR
As weird as it sounds, a really good plaster is guaranteed to turn TD’s tears into smiles. I’m not even kidding. A few years back, Dinosaur Plasters were the main joys of his life. He’d turn up in the kitchen covered in the things. Then it progressed to Jungle Animal Plasters – solely because we couldn’t find the Old MacDonald farmyard animal-type plasters he’d requested. And now, he’s obsessed with the Star Wars and Frozen plasters that the lovely folks at Elastoplast sent a few weeks back. Just bringing out the box of plasters is enough to make his little face light up. When he was tiny we used to keep the plasters in his doctor’s kit toy. He’d become so fascinated by the idea of playing Doctor on himself that the tears would disappear straight away. I even successfully utilised said doctor’s kit to help him prepare for his vaccinations!
And finally, every parent’s secret weapon: The Distractions. Yep, I guess Old MacDonald has served as the Ultimate Distraction for TD. If you can find something that your child adores as much as TD has always adored that song, then you’re quids in. Otherwise, a well-timed cuddle, a soft voice, and a direction to something else of note is a tried-and-true method for turning tears into smiles. And yes, it’s fine if that distraction is chocolate buttons. Sometimes, it’s a case of Whatever Works, and that’s OK.
We’ve been incredibly lucky with TD. Not only that we have him (although I do count my blessings for that pretty much every single day). But also having the farm, and Old MacDonald. We found something that he loved so passionately even as a tiny baby that has never failed to turn his tears into smiles. Those things are hard to find, I know. It’s hard to be a parent anyway – groping through the early months of crying and feeding, feeling your way into raising a tiny human as they start to walk, talk, answer back, draw on the walls, chase the cat…
The thing is, no matter how hard it all is, you’re all learning together. We learned all of the above alongside TD. One day, hopefully he’ll learn them with his kids. And yep, we’ll definitely remind him about Old MacDonald. Surely it runs in families…?
This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast. http://campaigns.elastoplast.net/plastermoments/uk
You can see more about their #TearsIntoSmiles campaign in the below video, or by visiting this site