I feel upset: not for myself, but for my son. Something small happened at nursery, something trivial, something lost. And he was upset by it, as small children can be. I’m almost alarmed by the effect it had on me: not just sympathy, not simply compassion, but a visceral empathy and desire to hold him close and tight. Not a logical response, but probably a very human one: i just want to fix his pain, to take it away, to make him forget it ever existed.
If this is what it’s like to be a parent, it looks like it may be harder than i anticipated.
Of course i understand why i feel as i do: not only am i empathic, but he is my son. And as any parents would, we have given him his first few years of life in the most safe and sheltered way that we can. Not hiding him away, but trying to ensure that he learns to fall gently. That his risk, his learning, is appropriate to his size.
But of course this does not work forever: as he grows, he will learn, and some of that learning will be about loss, about pain, about how things fall beyond our control, and about how our actions have consequences that we cannot hide or be shielded from.
These are hard lessons, but of course important ones. Protecting him from some pain now leaves harder lessons down the line.
Again: i understand this, and yet it’s still a hard lesson and harder truth.
I suppose that is my role as his papa, to guide him and to gradually open my arms further, wider, although i guess always ready to wrap him back up, for at least as long as i can. To let him know that even when he may feel pain or loss, he does not do so alone.