If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever.” - Winnie the Pooh
I made my daughter cry last week.
We were at the park for some after-school play time.
She was playing with her friends when my son decided he wanted a drink. Being the toddler that he is, he jumped up and made a beeline for the drinking fountain. Before bolting after him, I looked and saw my daughter happily chatting with her friend in the “sand box.”
Moments later, after my son got a drink, we came back to the play area.
It was then that I saw my daughter standing in the middle of the sand area crying.
I thought she was hurt or someone had upset her. How did I miss that….I was right there!
What’s wrong? I asked her.
I thought you left…….my friend told me you went home. Her lip quivered.
Then, I realized it was me that had upset her.
Oh sweetie, of course not….I would never leave you….I will never leave you! I told her.
I had been only a dozen yards away but she couldn’t see me at the drinking fountain. Of course, hearing her friend say ‘They left’ probably added to her feelings of fear.
I felt horrible that my daughter, even though momentarily, had felt abandoned, scared, alone.
Typically, she is so wrapped up with her friends that she hardly even looks to see where I’m at….even though I’m always watching her. However, maybe she IS looking at me….at least sometimes. Just as I watch her to make sure she is safe and making good choices, I realize she's probably scanning the crowd for me to make her feel safe and loved. I now know my presence at the park is comforting to her.
As our children get older, we want to give them space and independence.
However, I’m starting to realize that older children need their parents just as much as younger children.
They may not need us to help them get dressed or brush their teeth. However, they need us for guidance. They need us to be there when they feel sad or hurt. When they are playing in a soccer game, they need to be able to look into the crowd, make eye contact with us, and see us smile. When they are teens, they need us...even when they think they don’t.
I'm also realizing that, once kids go to school, time seems to start flying by. It's hard to say goodbye to the baby years. It's hard to let go a little. And, there's a fine line between supervising our kids and smothering them.
My daughter’s growing up rapidly before my eyes.
Yet, she’s still very much my little girl.
I know I can't be there every second of the day. Hopefully, my love and my words will stick with her when I'm not around.
Do you think older children need their parents just as much as younger children do?