Today is another day that I would put in the good column. That column has had a lot more marks than the other as of late. We went to the beach this morning. The breeze coming in off the ocean was perfect and the sun was out but not beating. It was one of those rare days that was comfortable.
My sons are now full toddlers. As full toddlers they are like cats with less agility. Fiercely independent and want to climb as high as possible. The problem is they are prone to falling and when they land they aren’t springy like a cat. They go plop.
On the beach my one son just wanted to walk. That is great because I like walking on the beach. The problem is loose sand isn’t easy to walk in and he kept falling down. He will grab a hand if he needs it but he wasn’t in a needing mood this morning. The walk went something like step, step, crash, hand, back to feet, drop hand, step, step, crash. Over and over again.
It came a point where he was in a rhythm but clearly struggling. I held my hand out for him to take but he didn’t. He left it dangling there. He didn’t slap it away as he sometimes does, but he let it dangle. I said to him, “My hand is here if you need it,” and a couple times he did take it.
That is the essence of parenting. Being the hand that is there when they need it. Children need to learn on their own. They need to develop on their own. Parents are guides and support. We show them the direction to take and offer assistance when they need it but we don’t make decisions for them. Our role is to assist. It is their life. We are only the footprints in the sand.
Parenting is a hard thing. It is hard to offer a hand, watch it be refused, and then watch your child stumble and fall. Some people would walk away at that point saying, “Hey, I tried to help. Look what you got,” but that isn’t the roll of a parent. A parent needs to not just offer the hand to guide but the hand to assist as well. To help them back to their feet and get them going again. I hope I can always be the hand for my kids to take when they need one.