Protection

cotton

At work, we’ve been discussing the difference between being personable and personal, when writing and talking online. It’s made me hyper-aware of what I write, and I was already a pretty heavy self-censor.

Lately, I’ve avoided writing about a lot of things that have come up for our family, just because I can’t get out of my head who might be reading this. Do I want all those folks to know some of the negative things I wish I could say? No. So I haven’t written them, and I’m not going to.

But today, there was another hard situation. And this one, I am going to write about.

Charlie has been going to a spring break camp all week. He’s come home excited to tell me all the fun things he’s done, so I know he’s enjoying his time, but I sense there is tension between him and the teacher. One of those things where they just don’t seem to click.

His reaction has been to be as ornery as possible, especially in the mornings. I think he’s nervous, and showing it.

The teacher has made several casual comments over this week that gave me pause, and today, after another comment, I worried that I should pull him out of the last day.

My first instinct was to protect him.

But as I listened to him tell me about the ducks he saw at the park, and how he was going to put grass in the birdhouse he made so the birds could make a nest, and how he did want to go back to this camp in the summer to make musical instruments, I changed my mind.

When I was a kid, I dreaded making mistakes. Once, I quit my favorite volunteer job at the elementary school library because on one day I forgot to show up on time. I was so embarrassed by my forgetfulness that I couldn’t bear to face the teacher. Instead, I just never went back. It is hard to be a kid, and learn that you can’t do everything grown-ups ask of you. To learn that not everyone likes you, not everything is fair, not everyone is going to give you what you wish they would.

But it’s just as hard to be the grown-up, watching the life lessons from the sidelines, knowing that no matter how much my heart wants me to wrap him in cotton, I can’t.

And even if I could miraculously protect him from all harm, I shouldn’t.

My hard lesson today was this: it’s actually not my job to remove my child from all situations that make him angry or sad or frustrated. (And if it was my job, I could never do it successfully thanks to the infinite ways we hurt each other as humans.) Instead, my job is to help him figure out how to handle the inevitable anger, frustration and sadness. How to live with the unavoidable heartbreak and persevere.

I think this is what people mean when they say that parenting, in some ways, gets harder as the kids get older. I can wipe butts and make snacks with the best of them. Food, water, sleep, play and sunlight–Mama’s prescription for healthy living.

But this murky emotional how-to? Shew. How do I teach that when I’m still learning it myself?

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One Response to “Protection”

  1. Catherine Mann Says:

    Stellar blog, Stacy! You’re a wise, wise mama!!

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