Sunday, May 06, 2012

Love Across the Drive

Without thinking much about it, I grabbed the little girl’s hand and walked her across the drive in front of the school. A woman had been yelling at the child from a car in the parking lot. I wondered if the woman was the little girl’s mother because, surely, all the parents knew the rules. At my son’s elementary school, there is a driveway in the front where parents can drive through and drop their children off curbside.

But if you go into the parking lot on the other side of the drive, you can’t just drop your child off and leave them to cross the drive on their own. Even though there is a crossing guard, the rule is that a parent must escort their child across the drive.

On this particular day, I had just escorted my son across and saw this woman yelling from a car. As the car was driving off, the little girl was near tears, probably because she knew the rule. That’s when I stepped in and took the girl across the drive.

“You’re going to have a good day,” I said, hoping to cheer her up. She stared straight ahead and walked stiffly.

“Okay? You’ll be fine. Yes?”

Still no response. All I got back was a bunch of negative vibes. Not just little girl negative vibes. I was feeling enough negative vibes for a grown, agitated woman.

It seemed like this incident was just another lapse in parenting, another reason to place a brick in the wall I ran up against with all my morning cheerfulness.

Parenting is tough work, and as quietly as it's kept, it does not come easily to every parent. A child’s needs change when they move from infancy, to toddler, to little kid to big kid. Their needs change, but the level of care and attention required from a parent does not change. If anything, it takes more to properly parent as a child grows. I had to make an intentional decision to parent my children the right way, and for me, that means that I always make them know that I love them. Whether we’re having the best of days or the worst, I want them to know the love I have for them.

Parent means “to bring forth, to develop in mind, to develop physically.” I’m not going to always make the right decisions and do the right things, but I know that I can always love them and let them know it. The indomitable, redemptive power of love, will more than make up for whatever mistakes I make as I bring forth and develop my children.

My earliest memories are of my mother lavishing me with her love. I was her sixth child, but as far as I knew, I was her only child. Once I became aware of my siblings, I realized that surely, I must have been her favorite. As I grew up and heard my siblings talk about my mama, it appeared that each of them thought they were her favorite. She passed that wonderful mother love down, and now I endeavor to spread it liberally on my children.

My kids have gone through some pretty tough stuff. They’ve been in despair, hysterical, terribly upset, but I’ve always tried to soothe their pain with love to keep them from building up a wall of anger or resentment. Only love can keep such walls from forming. And with children, sometimes the littlest things leave the biggest impressions.

That morning was a reminder to me, just in case I find myself too busy to love them the way I should. I can never get too busy to walk my children across the drive. I must always actively love them because the consequences are too much for a child to bear.