When you are seven, summer time is about learning important life lessons. How hot does the ground need to be before it burns your feet? How long can you hold your breath under water? Which rock is the loose one? Which plant is the prickly one? And which bully should you just walk away from?
As a parent, you watch helplessly as your child learns these important life lessons. You peak through a kitchen window – not wanting to step over his new found (and well-derserved) independence. You hold yourself back from running over to rescue, and take away that damn pain. You wait for your turn to speak.
But when the day is over, and everything calms down, your beautiful little man can finally abandon the shield that keeps him strong out there in the world. He melts in your arms in his superhero pyjamas, feeling once again, soft to your touch.
“It’s tough sometimes when your friends ignore your ideas“, I say as we lay in his bed.
His eyes light up and small tears form in their corners.
“Yes“, he says quietly – releasing the tension that’s been building all afternoon. “I didn’t like it“.
“I get it“, I say calmly. “I wouldn’t like it either“.
I wonder for a moment if we should come up with a solution, or a plan of action for tomorrow. I wonder if I should give him more options, more weapons, more shields. Anything else that will protect him from pain. Anything that will make ME feel better about sending him back out there into the jungle.
I decide against it. My gut tells me it’s not what he needs right now.
I hug him tight and he cuddles up closer, and I know that he is already dreaming of tomorrow’s adventures.
Children are so resilient, I think to myself as I lie beside him listening to his small peaceful breaths. I notice a small tear forming at the corner of my eye, as I finally release my OWN stress from today.
Here is what I didn’t tell him:
- How my heart froze as I saw him approach the big kids and ask if he could join the game.
- How relieved I was when they said ‘YES’.
- How utterly heartbroken I felt as I saw him try again and again to suggest a game that he wanted to play.
- How it took everything in my power NOT to run over and tell him that he didn’t need to play with those kids, if they didn’t listen to him.
- How immensely proud I was of him for NOT stomping his feet, and going home when he didn’t get his way.
- How my whole world brightened when his turn finally came to pick a game.
- How inspired I am by his ability to put his day to rest, and look forward to tomorrow’s adventures.
I will tell him all that one day, I think. Maybe as he’s peaking through his own kitchen window – watching another sweet little boy learn his very own life lessons.