Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Parental Advisory

The greatest joy one has as a parent comes directly from the happiness one sees in one's children. In my experience, when either or (when the stars align just right) both Suz and Rob are happy, then even if I am having a sh*t day or week or whatever, all seems right in the world. Prior to meeting Margaret and morphing from a solo act to the percussion section of a four-piece band in a swoop noteworthy for its solitary nature as well as it "fellness", such a belief was anathematic to me and to my life approach. In a moment everything changes.

It is easier to protect your kids from life's bumps and bruises when they are younger. Perhaps that is because you are also younger so you have greater energy to apply to the task. Perhaps but I think not. I think it is easier because the dragons that require slaying are less numerous and more readily identifiable. One anxiety closet per bedroom per child is a manageable task for any dad. If only their world remained that small, then the obstacle course that is protecting them would seem to be perpetually capable of being surmounted.

It does not of course. Nor should it. A child has to experience new things as he/she grows up. Life is to be lived after all. The upside is that there is a new adventure around every corner. The downside is that every adventure carries with it the spectre of danger - or even worse - heartache. Not every boo-boo can be made better immediately. It matters not how many Band-Aids are applied, the hurt lingers.

Eventually the ache heals. Or at least you hope it does. And you hope that the scar tissue left in its wake - while making your child stronger - does not make him or her too resistant to the next chance. You look them squarely in the eye and tell them what you believe, which is that it shall get better. And you believe it as you say it. But you know not whether they believe it as they hear it.

Between here and there lies a forest. It is consumed by darkness. Each of us has to cross it. We know not as we enter its width, its breadth or its thickness. When your child is little, you can lead him or her through it to ensure their safe passage. But as they get older, the rules change. All you are allowed to do is give them encouragement and plan to meet them on the other side. Life is a journey after all. There are miles to cover that we all must walk alone.


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