my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

March 5, 2012

sometimes the answer is "i don't know"

being a parent is hard and complicated sometimes. but the basic premise is very simple. we as parents need to look out for our kids. we need to cloth them and feed them and make sure they are protected. and sometimes being protected means we need to fight their battles for them and sometimes it means we need to make sure they are prepared to take care of themselves. take care of themselves physically and mentally.

we want to protect them from all the ugliness in the world, because there are some very dark and scary places. so sometimes that means avoiding the dark places. but sometimes the darkness finds you no matter what you do, and in times like those my gut reaction is to step up and protect. but sometimes i know i need to step back and let my kids handle themselves, because i won't always be there to protect and save them, and i need to know they can help themselves.

the absolute worst feeling, though, is when your children have to face the ugliness all by themselves, and they fail. because we can't always be there with our kids 24 hours a day. sometimes we need a break, and we take some time off. and so we intrust them to seemingly responsible adults. and sometimes things just happen, things nobody was expecting. and then you begin to second guess yourself. would it have been different if you had been there? would you have actually be able to save them, to protect them? or had the planets aligned in such a way that it wouldn't have mattered who was with them, because bad things happen sometimes no matter what you do.

and then the questions come. oddly enough, the question i ask myself is the same one my kids ask me: why? why did this happen to me? why do bad things happen? why are some people so mean?

unfortunately, there are no easy answers to those questions. and most times the best i come up with is that i just don't know.

it's confusing enough to be a kid these days, but it's worse sometimes when you do everything right, exactly how you were taught, and things still don't go how they're supposed to go.

i raise my kids to respect others, to play nice and take turns and be fair. i'm trying to teach them conflict resolution, how to react to situations that don't include yelling or screaming or fighting. we don't use the words "shut up," it's always "please be quiet." and if all else fails, i'm trying to teach them just to walk away if the other kids don't want to play nicely and fairly.

it's hard for my boys to understand all that, sometimes. and it's even harder for them to put it all into practice, but they try. the most difficult thing for them to wrap their heads around is when they do everything they've been taught and the other kids don't want to play fair. and it's hard to explain that sometimes other kids haven't learned the importance of respect. and how it's still important to respect other people even if they don't respect you. but they have learned that if somebody is disrespecting them, it's ok to just pack up and leave.

but sometimes they can't leave. or things happen so quickly there's no time to react. and things go from good to bad too fast. and i'm left trying to explain to them why bad things happen. even when they did everything they were supposed to, exactly like we taught them. sometimes there are bad people in this world, and i just don't know why.

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