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Chatterbox: Children’s Day

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I remember asking, when I was a kid, why children didn’t have a “Day” like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The adults usually said something like, “… because every day is kids’ day” and often listed the perks kids had that adults didn’t. When I got older, I, sadly, thought the same thing.

We were wrong. Kids are vulnerable.

Raising kids takes a lot out of any person but, as my hero dad once told me, “… that’s why God put it in you.” He was so right, and he had a way of putting everything in perspective with even a half sentence such as that one.

Children are like fruit cakes; they’re very sweet and a little bit nutty, and loaded with so much stuff that we never know what we’re going to get at any moment, or what we’ll be called upon to do or fix. Being a quality – or even just a responsible – parent takes mettle like nothing else.

We aren’t only invested in our kids, we love them beyond the infinite, and that makes a nearly impossible job even tougher. From the moment “the rabbit dies” (or when that plus sign appears on the stick), until the day we die and quite possibly beyond, most parents never stop worrying and, often, never stop working toward making sure that the kids are okay.

My older son has an interesting theory. He says that parents must also think of themselves as tour guides to the universe. We should consider ourselves as here to protect, inform and guide, as we would help a stranger visiting our native land. I think it’s a great analogy, for parents truly must be passionate and cerebral, involved as well as bystanders. Past the work, worry and sacrifice, raising children is an honor.

Some parents are privileged to closely observe their own children as parents in action. The daily effort, organization, patient commitment and level of self-sacrifice and love we witness are mind-boggling. We may ask ourselves, “Wow, did I do all that?” Time may blur the memory, but most parents do.

To young parents still deep in being the core of their child’s universe, being that guide to the galaxy, the trusted one, the one with the answers, the one who can decipher the cry and arrive with the cure, being “that” one whose very scent means safety, solace and relief, the one who always has an answer and the magic arms to deliver the peace, comfort, rescue and rest, I advise: Know your power, carry it and its burdens proudly. You are truly special – for a fleeting moment in time.

My brother-in-law rocked his daughter to sleep at night until she was about 4. Scooping her up, he did the “dad” thing. “She won’t need me for long; I’ll enjoy it for now,” he used to say. My daughter-in-law never complained when my grandies took hours of her love and time. “They grow fast,” she used to say, “I’ll take my hugs while I can.” Brilliant parenting; exquisite attitude.

Yes, it’s a tough gig when tears, tantrums and nightmares disturb our priceless sleep, but the truth is – it’s a rare, God-given privilege to be “that” one, to be that trusted protective zone with the needed security for a scared, over-exhausted, or unhappy wee one. It’s a role many people would gladly take, wish to have, or yearn to have again … to be that person whose mere presence creates sanctuary and inner reassurance, bringing a calm and quiet fulfillment to a baby who knows almost nothing past that, or to a child who knows little more. Anyone who has that privilege – that revered presence, that power to melt what hurts or frightens, to console the inconsolable – is the lucky one … the deliverer.

Even as adults, when we can feel abandoned, worried or in pain, we know the reassurance that the arrival of our spouse, child, or doctor brings. That’s the priceless gift that the privileged one gives to a child in distress – even if that distress seems minor to us.

These moments and days come and go in a flash. So, sleepy, busy or stressed … open those arms; render that serenity; be the deliverer. In these moments, we are the warriors and the heroes, and these moments are fleeting. We don’t get a second go ’round, though, one day, we all wish we could, again, be “the magic.” While we are, we must hold it dear, because it is an opportunity that, usually, never returns.


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