The 8-year old was crying as if someone had told her that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Tears streamed down her cheeks as sobs heaved her chest. It took quite a bit of time and holding to get her to calm down long enough to find out what had rocked her world.
“I wanted to play with that doll. I never get to play with that doll. She won’t let me.”
I just stared at her, eyebrows raised in shocked disbelief. “No one hurt you?” She shook her head. “You’re not bleeding? No broken bones? No one died?” Again, she shook her head. “You’re crying because you weren’t allowed to play with a doll?”
“I really like that doll!”
I stared at her, dumbfounded. She was giving an Oscar performance over a doll that wasn’t even hers. “You’re grounded. Go to your room.”
As adults we deal with some serious issues, such as the economy, friends and family serving in war zones overseas, and will Castle be picked up for another season. Some are living paycheck to paycheck barely making ends meet. Our bodies are failing us and our minds can’t remember where we set our coffee mug. Cars break down and bosses are demanding more for less. These are important matters. The kids just don’t understand!
And, to be honest, I’m glad they don’t. It sickens me when I see adults give kids more than their little shoulders should ever be made to handle. When it comes to the weighty issues, they need generalities, not specifics, and most of the time they don’t even need that. They should be protected from the harsh realities for as long as possible and then gradually eased into the complexities of life as they grow older. Life will crash in on them soon enough. Don’t rush it.
However, the problems they do face are very real to them. While crying over a doll may make us want to roll over eyes and tell them to grow up, we have to realize that to little hearts it is a very big deal. It is equal to an adult being passed over for a promotion in their minds. A broken toy to the child equals our broken car. It may sound silly, but trust me, it’s very true. As adults swamped with bigger upheavals, we tend to forget how real our problems were at that age.
Peer pressure, learning the social circles, and finding out who they are and what they enjoy are all serious issues in the growing up years. They haven’t learned that some people are just idiots, yet. In their young eyes everyone should like them and be nice. They know they like Monster High and hate broccoli. They don’t need to know about politics or the mass murder down the street. They just need to know to be safe.
They also know that Mommy and Daddy are able to make everything better. Don’t treat their problems as inferior to yours and be thankful that not being able to play with a doll is the most serious thing they have to cry about. There are children at their school crying because they’re hungry or lost or terminally ill. Too many kids are already forced into dealing with adult problems. Don’t make yours one of them.
So, when your little one comes to you crying because Billy down the street pulled her hair and said she was too much of a girl to play basketball, just hold her for awhile and tell her it’s all right. In a short while she’ll get over it and be thankful you took her problems seriously. Then you can teach her your famous hook shot that will make Billy’s jaw drop. We want to protect them and prepare them for an indifferent world, but they already have enough to worry about at their age, like how to change that D into a B. Their problems are very real to them, and as parents, they should be real to us, too. Teach them empathy now, and hopefully, they will cultivate it as adults. The world, at least theirs, will be a much better place.
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