Part of being a parent seems to be constantly asking yourself if you are doing the right thing. Are you doing or not doing something for your child that they will one day require hours and hours of psycho therapy to overcome.
Ok so it’s not likely. We’re all doing the best we can and most of the time we do a pretty good job. There are some fine lines though. For example, when is it ok to protect your child from something, and when is it going too far to the extent you are wrapping them in cotton wool? L and I feel quite strongly that we want to preserve our boys childhood innocence for as long as possible. Something’s are pretty simple, age appropriate toys and movies etc. Sometimes however it can be trickier…
A few weeks ago L had his bike stolen. It’s his mode of transport to and from work so cost us time, money and inconvenience. Thieving scumbag. Anyway, we both agreed not to tell H. He knows Daddy has now got a new bike and he had to borrow Grampy’s. He assumed by himself that Daddy’s bike had broken and we didn’t correct him. Personally I know that telling H the bike had been stolen would have made him worry. A big part of my job is to make him feel safe in his own home, and had I told him I would have been letting him down. One day he will learn that there are horrible people in this world that do bad things. But at 5 (almost) I would rather his concept of horrible and bad be that his friend wouldn’t let him be Batman today.
Sometimes we protect him from adult conversations to protect ourselves. That kid has earwigging down to an art form. We assume he is playing away nicely with his cars whilst conversation goes on around him. But he is listening. Listening to every word. It can be somewhat embarrassing when your child says “My XXXXX says that XXXXX looks like a man” (I’ve refrained from using names to save further embarrassment but needless to say the second XXXXX in question was a woman. We now have a lot of “Shall we talk about this later” in our house!
We had yet another dilemma this week. As much as I wanted to protect him from being hurt I couldn’t on this one. On Wednesday H came out of school carrying a necklace he said he had made for Budderball. (The necklace was some beads on a pipe cleaner and Budderball is a cuddly puppy – the only cuddly toy H ever plays with). The necklace was placed on Budderball as soon as we got home and normal play was resumed. Until! Saturday morning H was sat on my bed with Budderball whilst I was doing my hair when he told me that he hadn’t actually made the necklace. He had found it and actually it might belong to somebody else, but it didn’t have a name on so he took it. All of this was explained to me with big puppy dog eyes and a slightly quivering bottom lip (H not Budderball). I really did want to say to him, “ok you can keep it”, and I was honestly thinking ‘well if they didn’t put their name on it it’s their own fault’. But that was me trying to protect H who suddenly looked lighter now that he had unburdened himself of the guilt. he had been carrying on his small shoulders.
I did the right thing. I told him he would have to take the necklace back to school on Monday to give it back to whoever it belonged to. This of course resulted in lots of tears because “Budderball loves his necklace I don’t want to give it back”. When I explained that perhaps someone had made it for their puppy and they would be sad because they couldn’t find it the tears turned into full on sobs. “I didn’t realise Mummy, I didn’t mean to make anyone sad”. The poor lad was heartbroken. It took a lot of “everything will be ok” and “we can make a new necklace” to restore calm and order.
Monday morning we gave the necklace to his teacher and I asked H to explain what had happened, with a “H has been very worried all weekend” and a quick glance that I hope conveyed “He’s really sorry, please go easy on him” to his teacher, I let H tell his story. He looked down at his shoes and twiddled his hair as he explained. I wanted to cry for him. His teacher was lovely and said he was a very nice boy for bringing the necklace back. He came home that day very pleased with himself because he had discovered the rightful owner and given the necklace to them. A lesson learnt. And unfortunately doing the right thing meant I couldn’t protect him from pain or worry.
How can one innocent little cuddly toy cause so much drama!
I guess we can’t protect them all the time from everything, but the things we can, we should. So as we approach Christmas just remember those little ears when we are having grown up conversations about Santa and keep their innocence protected.
Now I’m off to buy some pipe cleaners and beads…
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