During a typical bedtime routine at our house, our six-year-old tends to get the last cuddles of the night. One night this week, as I drew the nuances of my day on her back with my fingers, I was struck by how much older she suddenly looked to me. So struck, in fact, that I stayed there lying next to her much longer than I usually do.
In that moment I found myself thinking back to when she was a baby and remembering the countless hours I’d spend studying the curves of her beautiful little face. As I stroked her hair and cuddled her close, I watched as her eyes started to close and listened as her breathing changed. Then I stayed there, for another forty-five minutes, watching her sleep and studying those same curves on her face that I did when she was a baby. When I got up, I went into her brother and sister’s rooms to pull their blankets around them and spent some time kneeling next to each of their beds watching their gorgeous little faces sleep too.
Then I went downstairs…and had a little cry.
In a week where the local and international media has been filled with details of every parent’s worst nightmare, I couldn’t help but be struck by the wonderful innocence in those three bedrooms above me. They don’t see the news. They don’t understand the power of social media. They may learn about bullying but they have no idea about the kind of impact it can actually have. At this particular moment in time, they are (thankfully) blind to it all.
The reality is, of course, that this moment in time is just that – a moment. Our six-year-old is just starting to understand what the Internet can do. She’s starting to hear things and ask more questions about the world around her. She’s even starting to experience different ‘friend dynamics’ at school. It would be so easy for me to start worrying and stressing about what we have to teach her to try and avoid situations like we’re seeing in the media. What messages should we hammer into her brain? When do we start? Is she in the right activities? Does she have enough support? Does she talk to us enough? What can we do to try and avoid similar situations?
But the truth is that I don’t have a crystal ball to tell me what we’re going to face as a family in the future. There’s no way to prep, position and message every possible situation. All I can do is parent the best way I know how and continue to love and appreciate them with every fibre of my being. As long as they grow up knowing that their parents will always prioritize being their PALS (protecting them, appreciating them, loving them and supporting them), then I think we’re on the right track. Whatever else comes our way, well, we’ll just have to hope that we can figure it out as it comes and that the support is in place around us for when and if we need it.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller