As parents, it is our job to try and not only cushion our children against the more brutal of life's punches, but at the same time, give them enough independence that they can function well independently of us. It's a fine line we walk -- do we let them take the hard knocks life has to dole out, or do we shelter them? Sometimes, it comes down to picking and choosing your battles.
Do you intercede when, for instance, there's a bully taunting your kid? If you do, you run the risk that your child gets further humiliation heaped upon him because Mommy fights his battles. Or, do you let some knuckle-dragging, Cro-Magnon throwback torture your child all for the sake of "toughening" him up? There's no real answer that you can point to as the definitive. It seems like, no matter what you do, this whole parenting thing sets you up for nuggets of pure pain nestled among the times of joy. I wouldn't trade my child, or the experience of having her, for anything, but it might be nice if kids came equipped with a manual. I mean, some of the people that I've seen interacting with their kids -- I wouldn't put ANYONE with some of these people, but you gotta be specially liscensed to catch fish? Who made up those rules?
Offspring is my pride and joy. I'm so proud of her -- how can I not be? She's a wonderful, compassionate, loving, intelligent girl. How can you NOT love a child like that? Oh, right....you all are going to say I'm biased. Well, you're right. I am biased, but there are plenty of other adults in her life that attest to the fact that she's a pretty neat kid, and very few of them are related to her. She's never a problem at school. She's been in the Gifted classes since kindergarten, and brings home award after award for excellence in her schoolwork. She's got a very kind heart -- often comes home distraught over the problems of others. She always thinks about what other kids her age have, or don't have. She loves animals, and has said for years that she wants to be a vet when she grows up. She's always quick with a hug to anyone who's feeling down, and she's the first one to tell you you did a great job when she thinks you're not very confident. She will often hole up in her room for hours to make cards for her family, or to draw us a picture.
That's why it hurts so much when she feels she's been slighted. I shouldn't really complain, though, because I'm the same way. I take negative comments to heart, and I worry myself crazy, trying to think of ways to make myself better. Offspring came home today, in tears because she wasn't chosen for her school's Quiz Bowl team. I tried to explain to her that not everyone could be chosen, and that it was no reflection on her that she wasn't picked. It was just the luck of the draw. She explained that there were eleven students eligible, and only four slots. I consoled her, and tried to explain that that this means that everyone can't participate, of course, and I'm sure her teacher wasn't trying to make her feel unworthy by not choosing her. Offspring feels that she's now "not smart enough", and no matter how much I try to explain to her that this is simply not true, she equates not being chosen with "not good enough."
I hug her and console her, and tell her that she's the same, smart, wonderful person that she always has been. I try to let her know how hard it is for the teacher who has eleven bright, wonderful students -- how does she choose? I soothed her, but part of me wanted to rail at the teacher. How can she NOT choose my obviously brilliant child? I know this is the Mama Bear aspect of me, just wanting to lash out and hurt the person who hurt my child, but I know this is only the reaction to my baby's distress. I want to insulate her from life's hurts, and it's so hard to let her experience the pain that comes from living life. And, I somehow think the idea of wrapping them in Bubble Wrap won't even protect them.