Me, “Do discomfort.” Tip 2
I think parents have a responsibility, to allow, manage, teach and accept discomfort. There are many things throughout life we may not want to deal with: death, illness, divorce, failure, disability, disappointment, rejection, and so on. Parents have an obligation to prepare their children for life’s diverse disappointments.
Saying, “I don’t handle that well,” is immature, avoidant, and irresponsible. Parents do not have that luxury, or at least should not if they want the best for their children. It is our job to handle it well, all of it!
As parents, we also have to teach our children to handle all of it. The sooner we can introduce these issues, in an age appropriate way, the better our children will be able to cope when discomfort arrives.
I remember when Michael’s turtle died. He was absolutely heart broken. His cries were the hardest I had ever scene. Ninja was a turtle to us, but so much more to Michael. I did not at all expect this level of grief.
I called the day care and asked for advice. I was at a complete loss.
I don’t recall exactly what they said, but they did give him a little clay turtle to remember “Ninja.” I was somewhat relieved that he was introduced to the issue of death, in lesser way than life would surely one day bring.
In this experience, he learned great sadness will dissipate. We had to leave space for loss, memories, and for love. We had to guide him through the sadness.
Now, sure, a part of me wanted to run out and buy another turtle. I thought there may be a way to “fix” this. I wanted to make his pain stop for him, and for me.
Had I run out, bought another turtle, and acted as if nothing happened, the lesson would have come later, and possibly an even more complexed way. I might have avoided this heartbreak; however, another would certainly arrive.
In Ninja’s short life, he made a little boy very happy, and also taught that same little boy about one of life’s hardest issues. Ninja gave us a training ground, a reference point, to discuss the most all-time difficult topics, death.
A few years later, a great loss inevitably did occur, when my Mom passed away after her heroic battle with cancer. During that time, we were again forced into (or should I say chose to have), uncomfortable, difficult, and dark conversations about loss.
It was in these moments when Michael (age 9) looked at me, with tears and fear, and said, “What will I ever do if anything happens to you?” Sigh. Oh my! Also, not expecting that.
Stricken with devastation, having lost my Mom, and not having any answers, I told him not to worry, he would handle it, just as we were handling it together. I assured him he would get through it.
I wanted to say, that will never happen. I wanted to say, don’t be so silly. I wanted to say, I will never leave you. I’ve learned, what I want to do, isn’t often what I should do – that I know for sure.
Instead of running, hiding, blaming, avoiding, raging, I chose to be as honest as I could be. I chose to be truthful, present, loving, encouraging, and empowering. I chose the truth, even though it was the most uncomfortable option for us both. Truth and honest was the right option for us.
Through that, Michael learned, he could count on me. He learned death was a part of life. He learned he could handle anything.
I learned, Michael could count on me. I learned death was a part of life. I learned, I could handle anything.
Thanks to Ninja, for your short visit, into our love-filled home. Even 20 years later, you have not been forgotten.