One beautiful summer afternoon, I was driving down a street near my home and I noticed a little girl, maybe 2 or 3 years of age, skating on the side walk with her older brother (maybe 6 or 7). The little girl had fallen down, her brother continuing to skate down the street.
The mother of the two kids sat on the steps nearby but NOT near enough catch the little girl when she fell.
Me? I’m a hoverer. When my 4 y/o skates, rides her bike or her car, I am right there. And this scene made me wonder; am I right for being there to catch my daughter every time she falls? Or was this mother right for being near enough to watch but far enough so that her daughter had to skate, fall and get up on her own?
When my daughter’s first fish died, she was 3. I couldn’t bare the idea of her finding out so I rushed right out to get a replacement fish. Some of my mommy friends reamed me for not using the occasion to open up the dialogue with my child about life and death. Of course I know that she’s going to have to face it someday and it’s better to have to explain it with the fish rather than someone close to her that she loves. And I promise to do it this time when the poor little beta goes belly up but that first time? I just couldn’t do it! I cried when I found her so I knew that my child, who named the fish (McKenna Dora Johnson), painstakingly fed her, helped to clean the tank and talked to her daily, would be devastated to know she died.
Right or wrong, I just wanted to protect her.
In this society, our kids seem to grow up so fast, their innocence traded in for warnings against those who would seek to hurt them, in person and online, bullies, predators, etc. Many parents just want to protect them, to keep them young for as long as possible while educating them on the dangers that are ever present.
As many children prepare to return to or start school for the first time, away from the watchful eye of their parents, they are going to ‘fall’. We as parents have to get set, that is, prepare our minds for the fact that we won’t be there to catch them. So, is it best to let them falter when we are close by so that they can learn what it means to get back up on their own? Or is it best to keep them from the fall as often as we have the power and the capacity to do so? I know that each situation is different and that this is a very broad analogy. Maybe there isn’t a totally right answer or a totally wrong one.
All I know is that I for one won’t vilify the parents who decide to hover just a little longer, waiting to snatch their kid up before they hit the ground.
Cover your child(ren),their classmates and teachers in prayer. Cover them with love, hugs and kisses for as long as they let you, for their youth is as fleeting as a beautiful summer afternoon.
By Danee Riggs