Corban misses Ms. Sweetie…The girl he was determined to dislike. After all, she is a girl. But he still misses her. The girl who took his cookie and kicked him. The girl he read to every night. The girl with whom he planned and performed puppet shows. Every night.
He misses her.
He came in the living room with me for a little bit and cried. But then he took the Garfield book he read to her at night and left. He went to lie down on the floor in Ms. Sweetie’s empty room.
He keeps asking when she is coming back.
Corban doesn’t remember kids leaving. This is his first remembered loss. I want to tell him it gets easier. I want to tell him he will get used to it. But he won’t.
We get a lot of questions about why we allow our kids to go through this. Why we knowingly put them in a position to experience this grief. Which of course makes me question my parenting and turns me into a mess of doubt and failure. At least for a few minutes.
Why should we be excused from pain?
For some reason, we have this idea that pain, suffering, and heartache are some sort of personal offense. That we don’t deserve to have anything uncomfortable in our lives. That sorrow is unfair and unreasonable. This idea is especially true of parents trying to protect children.
We try and shield children on every front. We rescue them from bad grades, from conflict at school, from having to apologize for their rudeness. We excuse them from being appropriate because they are too shy, too sensitive, too little, too scared. Because they are young, we seem to think they shouldn’t have to deal with anything remotely uncomfortable.
And really, all this over-protective mentality does is raise up a generation of people unaware of how to handle normal-life conflict. And completely incapable of appropriately dealing with grief. This idea of keeping children from any pain removes their capacity to understand that pain is a part of life. They will have to deal with it at some point.
I refuse to raise children within a world of fantasy. Because it is a fantasy (and a fallacy) to believe that our family should never have to deal with any hurt. Isn’t it just a form of arrogance to assume that my children are SO special or SO good that they should not have to experience discomfort or sadness?
I had a friend question me quite extensively about this subject. She was under the impression that our adopted children needed to be shielded because of their life experiences. I disagree. It is so easy to forget about other people’s pain when we don’t see it. It is too easy for us to get comfortable when presented with comfort. This is true for us. This is true for our kids – adopted or not.
What I have found is that I want my children to experience ALL of life. The happiness, the excitement, the wonder, along with the hurt, pain and grief. I want them to experience it now so it doesn’t surprise them later. Of course there are times I wish I could save them from what is dirty, difficult, hard, painful. But then I remember:
Preparation: The action of making ready or being made ready for use.
Preparation (to me) means teaching the kids not just what I want them to know, but also, what they need to know…even if it is hard.
I want them to know the painful depths from which the human soul can return. Because we do return from despair. Every time.
I want them to know how to serve. To be aware of other’s hurt. The children are already so much better at this than I am. Every time we are asked to take another child, I always hesitate for a minute…
my children never do. They always say…”YES!”
They need to know that even though I think they are special and should never experience pain…they aren’t. They are human, just like you, and just like me. They are not so special and wonderful that they are excused from life. And part of life is grief.
We fight it. We ignore it.
I avoid it. But it always finds me when children leave.
It finds my children too.
And we embrace it for a time.
It leaves us a little stronger and a little wiser and a little more sensitive to grief in others.
So, the answer is:
Yes, we knowingly, on purpose, allow our children to live a life of joy and excitement with new children moving into our home and family. Which means we also allow them to experience the grief that inevitably follows when their temporary siblings depart. Grief is not strange or abnormal.
It is life. And I will not and cannot protect them from all of it.