Full disclosure – this letter is as much for me (okay, more for me) than my son. I will need this reminder often in the next few years.
It has shocked me how calm I am when you hurt yourself. With a nickname like Safety Pup, there were many people (including myself) who feared I would be the most overprotective parent ever. But even with the hardest falls, I tend to not react at all. I suspect it’s because you are so calm when you get hurt. You once caught your HARD fall with your forehead and didn’t even cry. Didn’t even whimper, only checked to make sure you hadn’t dropped your ball that was occupying your hands at the time. But you sported a goose egg that made people gasp when they saw you.
You recently blackened your eye on a patio chair and I didn’t even know it happened for several minutes, even though I was on the same patio.
I am lucky that I was blessed with a child that helps me not overreact simply by his example.
But, recently, I have noticed that I risk being an overprotective parent in the feelings department. When a big kid is taking advantage of your youth and making all of the game rules or someone calls you a liar when you are just making up your imaginative stories, Mama Bear instincts take over and I want to tell those kids to back off. You used to brush this stuff off too, but with each passing month, you are paying more attention to your feelings. And it makes me want to jump in and make it all better.
Here is what I know, though, and I hope this wisdom can help ME back off when things get hard for you: you can’t learn and grow if things are always easy – it’s the sadness, tragedy, and frustrations in life that build character and help us discover tools for the next difficult time. If I always rescue you from the hard times, I will stunt your emotional growth and mold a man who can’t solve his own problems. Standing up to the big kid now will help prepare you for the workplace bullies of your future. Explaining that your imaginative stories are your way to have fun will help you learn to explain your intentions in the future – in professional and personal relationships.
I will still insist on helmets when you ride “anything with wheels,” and I will likely say, “be careful” more times than you could ever count, but I promise I am trying to let go and let you take care of yourself. I can’t completely step away and not offer tools to help keep you safe and cope, but I pledge to you that I will allow you to hurt and allow you to grow (even though I wish I could just keep you this age forever. Kidding. Kind of.)
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