These days parents tend to be needlessly overprotective of their kids. They’re terrified of germs, they lose their minds if their child gets a cut or a bruise, and they refuse to let their children have any independence for fear of something horrible happening. To these people I point out that children are not, in fact, made of glass, and that making mistakes and getting hurt every now and then are important parts of childhood.
But this post is not about how kids are not as delicate as we make them out to be. This post is about how kids are not invincible.
When we become parents for the first time we take a lot of things for granted. We expect to watch our little bundles of joy grow and learn. We expect to see them start, and finish, school. We expect to someday see them find the perfect person, get married, and have children of their own. We expect that as long as we love them, teach them, encourage them, and take care of them that they’ll grow into happy, healthy adults. We expect that someday, far in the future when we’re very old, that we’ll pass on and leave our beautiful legacy behind us.
No one expects their child to leave them before any of these things can come to pass.
A little over a week ago I got some awful news: my cousin’s son lost his battle with sickness and passed away. He would have been seven years old at the end of this month.
I am not close with this cousin – in fact I very rarely ever see her – and I’d never met her little boy, but when I got word that he was gone from this world my throat went dry and I felt terribly ill. No parent should have to suffer the pain of losing a child, especially when that child is still a child. I can’t even fathom the pain my cousin is going through right now and I just hope that someday that pain lessens, though I know it will never leave her completely.
In the days following this terrible news I think I hugged and kisses my daughter a hundred times a day. I probably spent twice as much time on the floor playing with her, and when she was bad I couldn’t find it in me to get mad. I was haunted with the idea of what it might be like to lose her, because even when she’s pushing every single one of my buttons, she’s still my beautiful, precious little princess. But then I began to think: it shouldn’t take a tragedy to remind me of that fact.
As much as we wish it could be otherwise, our children are not invincible. Sometimes terrible, cruel, unfair things happen. Knowing this doesn’t mean that we should coddle our kids or make their lives miserable by being ridiculously overprotective. It simply means that we should cherish them…for as long as we are given the chance.
Kids will do wrong. They’ll be brats. They’ll be unreasonable and insufferable, and do things that make us want to pull our hair out. They’ll do everything they can to make us lose or minds, and we will: we’ll get mad and frustrated and we’ll lose our cool. That’s life and it’s part of parenthood and childhood. But beyond those moments, take a breath, look at your children, and cherish that they are in your life. They are the most precious thing in the world, and it should never, ever, take a tragedy like what my cousin is going through for you to realize that.