Posted on | December 17, 2012 | 6 Comments
Dropping J off at school this morning was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Don’t get me wrong, I love his daycare and I know he is as safe there as he is anywhere, but oh the agony of hearing the door lock shut behind me. The daycare has a glass front door. The playground is protected only by a tall, barred fence… anyone could reach in a hand or a gun or a knife and terrify the person who means the most to me.
My first instinct is to, well, freak out. I want to double pane, bubble wrap, puffy coat protect my child in a reinforced steel helmet with shatterproof glass protectors over the eyes. I want to scream as loud and as long as I possibly can that it is 100% not okay to threaten, harm, or endanger any child but most especially my very own little boy… with his sweet blue eyes and sugared smile. I want to drive around with a bullhorn and educate the world on what it means to be good and kind and chastise those who are up on the wrong soapbox in light of Friday’s events. I want to grab my son by the shoulders and tell him about Sandy Hook and warn him about strangers and even familiars and what evil lurks around the corner.
But then I hear a soft, kind, familiar voice whispering in my ear, gripping my shoulder and keeping me steady:
“Let your child be a child for as long as he can be.”
I can’t protect him from everything. I can’t prevent madness or insanity or evil or hate. I can’t do anything to keep J safe if someone bigger or badder or more heavily armed than me decides to hurt him.
But I can and I will let him be a child for as long as he can be. I can smile and play and tickle and hide. I can watch Christmas specials and sing carols and paint cookies. I can encourage his imagination and his smile and by God I can love the hell out of each and every minute of his life. Because all too soon, someone will take or he will outgrow his tender innocence. All too soon, sarcasm will replace sweetness, rolled eyes replace rolled cars. All too soon these precious days will be gone.
The news can wait. The sorrow and sadness and anger can be put away, by me, because I am one of the fortunate. I am one of the parents who still has a baby to rock. I still have a child to wrap in my arms, to scold and tease, to teach and to love.
And for as long as he will let me, I will shield and protect him from the outside world, because it is my number one job… because I believe that children should get to be children for as long as they can be. Because I don’t want my child to live in the same fear that now threatens to engulf every inch of my heart.
If you need me between now and Christmas, you will find me knee deep in J’s childhood, embracing these moments that are mine to embrace. Living the life that is still mine to live; loving the child that is still mine to love.
Because, as my mother often reminds me:
Babies grow up, we have learnt to our sorrow,
So try and leave jobs that can wait till tomorrow.
Children grow older while you are not looking,
And years stretch ahead full of cleaning and cooking.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,
I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.