Despite the fact that, as we have recently seen here at TEOM, I am often a mass of anxiety when it comes to my children, I don’t actually believe in protecting them from pain and disappointment.
Quite the opposite.
Oh, don’t get me wrong I have never felt it necessary to dole out difficulties in the service of “toughening them up” or “preparing them for real life.” As far as I am concerned, that is just the way some parents manage their anxiety about whether or not their children are going to make it out in the real world. They want proof their kids will be OK and they want it now.
I have always felt that life would acquaint my children with grief in its own good time and without any help from me. The way I see it, my job is to create – no, to be – an emotional home for my children’s feelings when life does what it must do and lobs disappointments, losses and frustrations their way.
Which is why it strikes me, now that I look back on it, that my reaction yesterday to Youngest’s thumping in his first Fantasy Football matchup was oddly out of character. For reasons too complex for me to attempt to decipher, much less explain, the fact that the Colts trounced the Saints last night somehow resulted in his team being thrashed by his friend Scott’s team.
He rose from the couch when the game was over, his shoulders slumped in disappointment. “I got killed,” he sighed.
Did I empathize? I did not. Did I encourage him to tell me more about it? Nahh. Did I point out that there the season is long and redemption is possible? Uh, nope.
What I did do was put one arm around his shoulders and laid a hand on his chest. He looked at me, no doubt expecting soothing words of wisdom. What he got was…
“Welcome to pro football.”
Do you think it’s possible I may have watched one too many episodes of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Kansas City Chiefs?