Letting kids fight their own battles

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School would be out in 15 minutes. I had arrived early and pulled into a space facing my sons class. Only a moment later the school doors swung open and 30 or so kindergartners swarmed out onto the playground to savor a bit of the warm day, the first we’d had in a week.

I watched my little guy in his gray hoodie climbing the equipment, going down the slide and chasing friends around. After one particularly long chase that began with 6 kids, Ethan was the only one left in pursuit. I watched as he caught up to the boy in front of him. I watched as the boy turned around and shoved Ethan hard onto the ground.

I heard the driver side door click and then realized it was my hand on the handle, tense. I was ready to march on over to that offending child and give him a piece of my mind. But I stopped as rational thought took over instinct. I can’t be there to help him up every time he falls. I shouldn’t help him up every time he falls, even if I am there.

As I watched, Ethan stood up and went back to playing as if nothing had happened. I relaxed, thankful for his ability to shrug things off. Yet I was troubled as I realized this was only one of many painful experiences he would face in his life.

How many times will he face physical hurts? Emotional hurts? Will his heart get broken? Will he lose faith in the goodness of humanity? What wouldn’t I give to be able to shield all of my children from hurt and harm all the time?

But I can’t give them that. No one can.

A simple quote comes to mind:
Worry is like a rocking chair–it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Instead of worrying, I should be asking myself what I can give them to help them get through the painful tomorrows.

I have gotten by on faith. Faith that God exists, that he is aware of me personally. I have gotten by on love. The love of family and friends has buoyed me up in my darkest times. I have gotten by on others belief in me. Those who have expressed their belief in my ability to be better and do better and overcome hardship, has helped keep me going.

I can give them all of that. But even after I give them all I can to see them through, they will still be the ultimate deciders of their reactions toward what mortality hands them. I can only hope to set an example of patience and kindness that perhaps they will follow.

So much to work on personally, so much to teach, so overwhelming at times are the considerations of a mother.


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