Saturday, April 28, 2012

Forgotten Umbrellas and Lost Kites

It is supposed to rain today and my daughter forgot her umbrella. Her class is walking to the public library this afternoon, and the teacher said they would go regardless of weather, unless it stormed very hard.

I thought I would take her the umbrella. The umbrella and the library card she also forgot. But then I sighed and told myself,  Consequences. She needs to learn consequences. 

I am not good at letting my children feel pain. I can inflict it well enough; they lose privileges or receive punishments in a way that is reasonable and fair. I hate complacent bad behavior, and it is not dismissed. But letting them feel the pain they cause themselves - I am bad at that. I am quick to soothe. The tearful repentance, the heartbreak over breaking a thing through irresponsible use, the grief at ruining something for herself - I can barely let those things last a minute. They make me ache.

I rush to comfort. Sometimes I even try to prevent the discomfort. We took the kids to fly kites for the first time  and before I let them out of the van (VAN!) I told them gravely that kites break or kites get lost or tangled in trees and that is just the nature of kites. All true things, but why was I so reluctant to let them discover it for themselves?

As it turned out, the kites did not get broken or lost that day. And the clouds today are disappearing, so maybe it will not rain. I seem to be warning my children to be prepared for discomforts that don't happen. But sometimes I think I am so eager to to ease their experience of life, they will not be prepared for the big disappointments that will surely come.

I guess life will have to take care of that for me. I hope I get to stick around to comfort them then.

1 comment:

  1. Hm. I agree that they have to learn consequences for some things. But I'm conflicted about the forgetting thing. I was a forgetful child, not out of malice or even really out of carelessness - it just wasn't a strength. My son is the same, my daughter isn't. I probably would have brought the umbrella and the library card, because in that case I just don't think the consequence is commensurate with the offense. I know what you mean in general, though.