“Mom! Are you okay?” My 4 year old yelled over the rushing water that pushed at our ankles.
She held my hand tight as we both struggled to find our footing in the freezing, stony creek. The torrent yanked off one of my flip-flops, then the other. I laughed so hard I cried at that point – at my own silliness in shoe choice that day and because no matter how stuck we were, we’d just have to get through it anyway. Then I looked at my daughter and sobered. She was terrified. So I flew into protective mode, and began to reassure her, even while I was slipping on rocks in the water.
Then she suddenly composed herself and shouted, “Hold on mom! We can do this! We’re going to make it!”
Of course, she was right. We made it across the 10-foot wide creek just fine.
Then my daughter broke down in hysterics. The stress and relief together overwhelmed her. She’s a deep well of a soul and when this happens, we usually wrap her in a soft blanket and she cries as long as she needs for the feelings to subside.
Which was NOT going to happen while I hopped around barefoot on the scalding, rocky shore, wondering how burned and scraped my feet would be after I traveled the rest of the mile to our cabin!
So I grabbed my wailing daughter by the hand, and ran-skipped across the rocks and sticks with my older daughter racing up ahead, yelling directions to the next patch of cool shady ground in front of us. I called back to my little one, encouraging her, comforting her, thanking her for her strength in the creek, and occasionally trying to make jokes about the situation to lighten things up.
We made it back to the cabin, my feet only mildly scraped and tender, which amazed me completely! Even more amazing, though, was what I learned about my daughters. So often with my little ones, I try to buffer them from the impact of emotional blow-ups and tough behaviors the older girls have every day. To protect them because I wish they had a peaceful, “normal” family – if that even exists. But as I watched my 4-year-old become, in a moment, a strong and reassuring leader – even with the very-4-year-old emotional meltdown! – I realized God’s care for her is beyond what I can engineer. He’s watching out for her and helping her grow up okay in the midst of the sometimes chaotic life with special needs siblings.
Sometimes life’s going to rip her flip-flops off and put her in tough, rocky places. Sometimes she’s going to have to just bare down and run through scalding terrain to get to where she’s going in life. And after our ordeal I know she’s going to be ready when life takes her on a barefoot hike.
How about you? What challenges are facing your children? How are you doing with the challenges as their parent?