Whether we are a doctor, teacher, astronaut, politician, salesperson, or plumber, I would argue that there are few jobs as difficult as being a parent. Our children, particularly when they are young, expect us to be courageous and infallible. A four-year old believes Mommy and Daddy know everything and can heal all wounds and repair all problems with a kiss and a Band-aid. They look to us for answers to all their tiny woes. It is an enormous responsibility.
Our country experienced yet another shooting last week. Americans sent out thoughts and prayers, our politicians expressed their usual sorrow and outrage again, and our flags were lowered to half-staff to honor the newly dead. We want to safeguard our children from becoming victims of these despicable acts of violence, but how do we protect them from knowing what and why this keeps occurring when we don’t understand it ourselves?
Today was a three-generation girls’ day out for Kelly, Lily, and me. As we were driving around town, Kelly told me that Bryce noticed the flags, and she looked to me for an appropriate explanation regarding why the flags were not raised to the top. A kiss was not enough. She is learning how difficult it is to be a mom.
How do you tell a preschooler about fifty-eight people being fatally gunned down while having the time of their lives? What can you say to prevent fear from becoming normal? How can you protect their innocence?
I don’t recall having these worries when the three of you were young. During your early years, I did not worry about you going to the movies with your friends, attending church with me each Sunday, or going to school. It never occurred to me that you could walk out the door and never return. It was not until that spring day in a Colorado high school eighteen years ago when the possibility of a school shooting became real.
I suggested to Kelly that she tell Bryce that we lower flags to honor important people who have died, adding that she need not tell him the details at such a young age. I think at that age less is better at times.
The irony of this day was that after I left her house, Kelly called to inform me that Bryce was not being released from school, because they were under a lockdown along with at least four other area schools. Apparently, four juveniles had fled a stolen vehicle in the area, so law enforcement were taking precautions to protect the schools.
Fortunately, all Bryce spoke of was the fact that he received an extra snack. His innocence has not left the room yet. Fortunately, they caught the perpetrators quickly.
Parenthood is hard.