Monday, April 22, 2013
I tried to appear as if I weren't watching. For the most part, I was engrossed in the end of a good novel but couldn't help peering over my book at my son playing at the creek next to his school. Younger girls were swinging back and forth across the creek on a woody vine. Someone handed him the vine and told him to take a turn. Every natural instinct told me to shout out to him that it wouldn't hold. But he's nine now. When I was nine, I would have swung on that vine. I kept quiet.
For so many years, my primary job has been to keep my children safe. Don't climb too high. Don't run into the street. Hold my hand. After nine years of that, I now let my son ride his bike in the street unsupervised, I leave him alone in the LEGO aisle of Target, and I let him decide whether to swing on the vine. He can handle the responsibility, and I have to let him do it. I have to let him be a little less safe. It's hard.
I spent all of Friday refreshing CNN on my phone, trying to keep up with the events going on only an hour from our home. The news was dominated by words like manhunt, lockdown, and explosives. It was a stressful day.
As I was putting the kids to bed upstairs, my husband heard that the police had located the suspect and he turned on the TV for the resolution. I tucked in the kids, then returned to the TV.
Minutes later, my son called down. A scary image from a book was stuck in his head. "I know it's not real, but it's still creeping me out," he explained. I wasn't sure how to help, but he knew what he needed. All he wanted was for me to lie in bed with him for a few minutes to "make him feel safe."
While police officers were catching the bad guy, I was lying in bed with my son, doing my job to make him feel safe. Maybe that's the best we can do. We can't make them hold our hand anymore, but we can keep the hand there for when they need it.
I've taught my children not to run into the street, and I will continue to teach them how to make good decisions. I cannot always keep them safe--from bad guys or themselves--but I will always do my best to make them feel safe. I will always be the person they can call when things get scary. It doesn't sound like much, but it might be the most important thing I can do.
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I have linked this post at Just Write.