The Second Best Days of My Life

One of the great joys of parenthood, for me, was being there as my babies began to understand the world around them.  Things that were once just objects to gnaw on suddenly became objects of curiosity.  People became interesting, dogs became the source of great excitement, flowers became beautiful and books became pages that sparked little imaginations.  

Every day brought new wonders and realizations, and with them, richer vocabularies, deeper conversations, more inspired creativity.  I remember once I was in the market with both of my kids - my son was one and my daughter was three - and an older man looked at us and said, enjoy this, because these are the best days of your life.  I remember thinking that he was right. 

Then came the elementary school years, and the opposite occurred.  Instead of trying to expose my children to everything around them, my instinct was to protect, protect, protect.  Once they could read, so much of the scary, adult world was available to them, and my parenting went on the defensive.  

I restricted what television shows and movies they could watch.  I didn't keep fashion magazines or celebrity gossip rags in the house.  I put filters on the internet.  We didn't discuss news of war or natural disasters or terrorism or drugs or sex.  We never used the word fat.  I wanted my kids to remain in the warm, safe cocoon of childhood for as long as possible, and I sheltered them to the best of my abilities.  Instagram, Snapchat, reality television and Pretty Little Liars were the enemy.  Disney, Pixar, and Captain Underpants were my saviors.