Protecting the innocence of our children…
My heart secretly ached for her not to be fine leaving me, her mom.
My daughter started pre-k recently. The first day she cried and didn’t want to leave me. I walked her in and stayed a while. A dad of another child I know well was inside the building and I begged him to wait with me.
My heart was breaking. What was I doing here? I felt conflicted leaving her. As she was looking longingly through the window of the classroom at me, my friend said, “Let’s go. You can do this. You can leave her.” I cringed my eyes and shot him a stare, and said in a half serious tone, “I want to be like Jesus. When she looks back at this moment some day later in life, I want her to remember I never left her in her sorrow and I was always there. “
He sensed my need for the dramatic and just agreed to stay.
She came home and in her backpack was a drawing that had a statement and a blank for the last word. The child was to tell the teacher how they felt. My daughter’s said, “Ella came to school today, she felt angry.”
I giggled at her innocence and was proud of her honesty. The next day we tried it again and she cried harder and although all the other parents left and encouraged me to do the same, I walked her in again and stayed until I thought she was okay. When she came home, she said she had a great time at school. The third day when I walked her up to the entrance, she got in line with the other children this time. No tears.
I kissed her and in her sweetness, she kissed my lips, then my head, and then took her little fingers and blessed my forehead with the sign of the cross. It was as if she was the one comforting me this time. Her body was speaking a language to me saying, “Mom, you can go. I’m alright now.”
I left feeling sad almost wishing that it would take longer than two days for her to be okay without me.
Last year when my son, who is my first-born, entered kindergarten, I wrote a blog about it. I wrote:
“But there is a part of me that knows that this is just the start of me having to prepare him to leave me…something I dread in the first place. I have to prepare my son to some day move out of my house, maybe even out of the state, so he can be a part of a world that may not love him as much as I do. My question to the world is, “Will you be appropriate when he is around you, will you refrain from vulgarities and sexual-innuendos that will confuse him; will you support him, console him, trust him, and make him feel like he matters? Will you appreciate the details in his drawings? Will you let him share his creativity without interrupting or making him feel like he is not good enough? Will you laugh at his jokes, and delight in his company? Will you have the courage to hold him accountable when he makes mistakes? If the answer is “yes,” well, I have no reason to be afraid! But, if the answer is “no,” then I can’t apologize for feeling a bit sad about preparing my son to leave me.”
Now I feel the same about my beautiful daughter. Will the world behave? Will they accept her as she is? Will she be strong without me?
I say to my children almost every day that they are unrepeatable, irreplaceable, and unique and that the day they were born the world changed for the better because they are in it and there never was or ever will be anyone like them. They are special. They have it memorized. Seeing them smile when I say those words to them assures me that they are aware right now in their young and innocent ages that they matter. Will the world try to convince them otherwise?
The answer is yes. So what is a parent to do? Never send their children into the world, even the somewhat protected world offered in a pre-school? I know I can homeschool, but after much prayer, it is not an option for us right now. Knowing they are surrounded by some of my friend’s children at school does give me some comfort. But, the world is big, abusive, and will not be concerned about my desire to protect and nurture my children.
And I am only one.
Oh, but I am not just one. I am a mom. I am a person who can grow a life in my very body. I am strong by the very nature of who God created me to be and you are strong by the very nature of who God created you to be. And, I am brave when I allow God to lead me. And just like the words I say to my children, I will speak to myself and to you.
You and I were created unrepeatable and irreplaceable, and our voices matter and when we unite them for good, we can be louder than the world. The day we were born the world changed for the better because a totally unique and unrepeatable person entered it, so it had no choice but to change. The question is, will we change it for the better? Will we get in the world or will we sit on the sidelines? Will we raise our children to be a part of changing the world from the inside out? Will we volunteer our time in schools, churches, and neighborhoods so when we meet other children, their parents will be assured that we will notice, protect, and speak truth to their children because we are in this together.
I asked the question, “Will my daughter be strong in this world without me?” She will not have to be. I will be right there paying attention. I am sending my children into the world, but the world should know, I will not be silenced. I will be watching. I will be participating; I will be speaking up at even the slightest indiscretion.
I will e-mail, call, and schedule uncomfortable meetings if I have to. I will devote myself to praying for the protection of their innocence and dignity. I will refuse to be beat down. And although the world as it is right now will try to convince my children and yours to live a life without standards, virtue, and morality, I will counter their voice with my own. I will be loud and when your voice joins with mine in solidarity, we will be even louder.
The world will be annoyed by our nagging, but we won’t stop. We can’t. We are parents and we are citizens who have to be determined and convicted to leave this world a better place for our children. We can’t be on the sidelines. We must engage. Our children’s future depends on it.
My children and yours represent hope in this uncertain world. We must walk beside them and counsel them in faith, hope, and love and give strength to their voices as they navigate this world and lead future generations to a greater purpose.