I am in the process of moving from one place to the next. The move was prompted by a desire to be closer to my kids, and overall the move works out great for me with regards to logistics and finances. My kids love the new place and are very excited. There is more room for them, the apartment is closer to them, and the newness of it all is fun and uplifting.
I, however, am not completely moved in just yet, and I am dealing with being in a transition period. It can be frustrating and overwhelming managing the daily nuances of ‘what do I have left to do?’ Dealing with phone and cable service, changes of address, scheduling appointments for this and that. I wish it would all just get done. I wish I could look at this whole effort the way my kids do. They don’t see all the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work that is takes place.
But then again, isn’t that what being a kid is all about? I have to remind myself that as a parent, not only do I have to allow them to be kids, I need to do all that I can to ensure they can be kids. All too often I find myself explaining things in detail to Natalie and Daniel. Although their curiosity is great, there are many times when all I should say is, “don’t worry about it and go play.” There is no reason for me to contribute to them growing up more quickly.
The world does a good enough job of this as it is. There is a reason I don’t watch CNN or MSNBC with my kids in the room. I don’t want them to grow up worrying about the war in Iraq, gas prices and Hollywood liberalism. I don’t want them to worry about stuff I worry about like budgets and deadlines and weight management. I want them to focus on drawing and reading and creating. I want them to enjoy the video games they play and the animated shows they watch. I want them to be kids.
Some will say that I am sheltering my kids. Taken to an extreme, some would argue that I am lying to my kids. Of course I am. That’s my job as a dad and responsible parent. It’s to protect the innocence they have. An innocence they will have to abruptly relinquish when it is time for them to grow up. Why not want to preserve that? We get only one chance at being young and carefree, which is exactly why I want to maximize this experience for them.
But just like all other things in life, sheltering my kids takes moderation and balance. It takes knowing what is and is not appropriate for my kids. It takes knowing them well enough to recognize what they can and cannot understand. It takes the desire to put forth the effort that is needed to shield them as best I can from the sometimes brutally harsh realities of our world.
It’s not easy and I don’t always succeed in getting it right. Just like my desire to get settled into my place, I work to give my kids an environment that is stable, comfortable and, most importantly, safe. But the truth is that we are all in transition from day to day. It’s as if we unpack a box to immediately pack it up again. As long as I am doing the packing and unpacking for my kids, too, then I know I am doing something right.