Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Difference between Bears and Boo boos.

I can think of a great many experiences I had when I was young that, at the time, felt like dire situations. When I went through them, I felt like they were the most awful and painful circumstances one could ever be in. Looking back, I've come to realize that those very situations that I dreaded being in are the ones that made me who I am today. My life is proof that anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Still, I'm now a parent. Being so puts a completely different slant on the who "that which doesn't kill you" bit. Anyone who has kids will tell you that there is this almost undeniable instinct that crops up as soon as your child is born. Its this undying urge to protect your child from any and every hurt and pain that the world has to offer. Although that instinct is helpful when fighting off the bear that sneaks into your cabin on your weekend camping trip, you can see how it might be problematic in other situations.

Every parent goes through this. Watch brand new parents. When their baby girl falls, mom and dad run to her aid. They kiss the boo boo, no matter how small and meaningless it might be. They give her hugs. They sing her songs and console her. Then watch a parent with several children. When their baby falls, they don't even get out of their chairs. They barely look up. They've figured out that that scratch will heal. More importantly, that fall will teach the baby a valuable lesson. So, they let it happen.

The thing I'm learning about being a parent is that, just like I did, my children have to take their lumps. I can't fix them all. I can't rid the world of all the broken glass on the sidewalk. I can't run background checks on every boy that knocks on the door. Even if I did, it wouldn't do much good. They need those scraped knees. They need that broken heart. There are times when I should go into superdad mode and beat up the bear. But there are also times when I have to let them get that boo boo. The lesson learned from it is more important than the tears they will cry in the process. The hardest part, for me, is knowing the difference.

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