Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why aren't kids born with helmets and knee pads?

Yesterday, I sat on the couch while I talked to my sister on the phone about getting our little kids together to play.  As I was sitting, my daughter was standing on the floor, holding onto the couch for balance, and she decided to just fall straight backwards.  There was no rolling, there were no hands to break the fall... straight backwards and hit our hardwood floors with the back of her noggin.  Lucky for her, she comes from strong stock.  Her head is abnormally large for her body size (from my side) and it is also hard as a rock (mom's side, probably mine too).  My sister heard the THUD and subsequent screaming through the phone and was like, "Do you need to go?"  So, of course, I said, "Um, yeah."

At the exact moment my daughter fell, there was nothing I could do to prevent the fall from happening or protect her from the consequences - hitting the floor and pain.  Parenting is full of these "heart-attack" moments when there is nothing you can do in the moment to prevent or protect your child from getting hurt/making a mistake/ruining their life.  About the only thing you have time to do is call out for the Lord's protection, as I did, by saying "Oh Jesus!"  This really isn't fair to Jesus.  He didn't have anything to do with her falling, and he probably isn't going to supernaturally intervene and keep her suspended in mid-air until I swoop down and pick her up.  Not that I don't think he couldn't, but I just don't think he would re-enter time and space and violate the laws of gravity just to keep my daughter from bumping her head.  I would think he'd save that for something more important.

ANYWAY, as a parent, there is only so much protection and prevention you can do.  It would be nice if we could create a bubble-child and they would still turn out normal, but it just won't happen.  In order to prevent bad things from happening, we will make efforts to baby-proof our homes, remove dangerous objects from their reach, keep them away from other sick kids (unless it's chicken pox), make them practice with training wheels, make them take driver's ed classes, and speak truth into their lives so that they make good life choices.  We step in as parents to protect them from consequences they cannot foresee.  For example, we put on hats and sunscreen to keep them from burning and we break up fights before someone loses an eye.  But the bottom line is that pain helps us learn.  We only touch a hot stove once.  We only jump off of the deck once.  We only shoot our brothers in the knee cap with a bow and arrow once, twice if he keeps mouthing off (guilty - but he returned the favor a few years later by shooting me in the ear with a paintball gun, so now we're even).

I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to prevent pain or protect our child from pain, but we have to give ourselves a break.  We can't possibly prevent, or protect them from, it all.  We have to be reasonable about our expectations and think about which types of pain are most important to prevent or protect them from.  I'm sure I will write more about this topic in the future as my strong-willed child will most likely treat me to a daily dose of heart attack moments, but for now, I just put the ice on the knot on the back of her head and she wipes away the tears.  I suppose that when we can't prevent or protect, the next best thing to do is comfort.  

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