How can you hurt children?

I cannot ever remember a time in which I was not dumbfounded by how people could hurt children. Around five or six years ago a friend of mine and I were speaking when he shared a thought with me.

He was a new father. I think that his son was just a few months old and there was an incident in which children were threatened. He called me after hearing of this and I could sense that his world had been turned upside down. He related to me how as a result of his having become a father he found adverse news about children to be far more painful.

I understand that now. Perhaps we are hardwired to react this way, it helps to promote the survival of the species, I don’t know. And at the moment it doesn’t matter, what I want to share is that this really bothers me. The tragedy in Beslan, the lost children of other incidents, it is somewhat haunting.

I can understand how this fear of something happening to your child can have such a tremendous impact upon you.

My son has developed a new habit of growling at people. It is something that he and his friends seemed to have picked up at school and we are working on ending this habit. I’d be lying if I said that part of me did not want to smile when I see it.

My little boy puffs out his chest and roars and or growls. He is a fierce dinosaur or bear or dog or something else that little boys imagine. And he doesn’t understand that some people do not find it to be cute or funny. As was posted on another blog, he has complete faith that his parents will keep him from harm.

This past weekend he growled at a homeless man who was collecting cans to be recycled. I smiled at the man to show that we meant no harm and said loud enough for him and my son to hear that this behavior was not acceptable.

At the same time I noticed that the man was glaring at us and instantly dad became the man growling. I puffed out my chest and gave this guy my the hardest look I was capable of. I was frightened about the possibility that he might try something. I didn’t really expect it, but when I am with my family I tend to err on the side of caution.

My overactive brain picked out a route to escape and avoid conflict, but I would be lying if I didn’t consider kicking him in the kneecap and throwing him over a car.

I never cease to be amazed at the feelings your children engender in you. I am the Secret Service for my children and I would take the bullet. I’d exchange my life for theirs and it wouldn’t be a question.

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to die, I need them as much as they need me, even if it is for different reasons. The point is that is our children reach into our inner core and touch us on levels that are intimate and intense.

One other thought to share. I lost a very dear friend on August 25th, 1998. David was 29 and someone I thought of as being a brother. It was cancer, a brain tumor got the best of him. I had the privilege to spend a lot of time with him in his final months and there are many things that stick out.

One is a comment that my father made. He said that he couldn’t imagine losing a child and that I should be very sensitive around David’s parents because they were dealing with a pain that I couldn’t conceive of.

When my son was born a few years later I thought about this conversation and it brought tears to my eyes. Suddenly I was a father and I knew that this was a pain that would tear out my soul and break me into fragments.

I haven’t spend a ton of time worrying about this. The population is not shrinking and the majority of people survive their time as children and grow up to be adults, but I am somewhat conscious of this, mostly on the level that makes me turn into my father.

My son has heard so many of my father’s lines, he cannot imagine. For that matter I want to know how I managed to channel my father’s voice through my mouth. Same words, same emphasis.

I wonder if I can make money off of this. Something to ponder.

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