I'll just get my gear - Shawn Loughlin editorial
For the longest time, Jess and I lived the dream of first-time, often overprotective parents due to a combination of our personal choices and the pandemic. Tallulah was home, with us or her grandparents, and she was somewhat shielded from the outside world. Good or bad, that was her life.
Now, however, as a two-year-old attending daycare, she is interacting with other children and childcare providers, some of whom we’ve never met, so her world is growing by the day.
It goes without saying that no one will ever love Tallulah as much as her parents and her grandparents, so, during the time I mentioned earlier, everyone around her always had her best interests at heart in everything they did.
However, in the cold, hard world of daycare, that may not necessarily be true. (Again, kind of like my “living without” column, this is meant to be a bit of a humorous take on things. Tallulah’s daycare is great, her teachers are great and she’s made many friends there.)
When Jess picked Tallulah up the other day, one of the teachers said Tallulah had a great day (they have steadily improved every week as she’s warmed up to the idea) but said she cried once or twice over the course of the day when another kid would snatch her beloved Piglet stuffy and run away laughing, bringing Tallulah to tears every time.
Have you ever seen the movie Commando? It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a retired U.S. Army Colonel who has to rescue his kidnapped daughter. Parallels aside, there is a scene in that movie in which Schwarzenegger gears up for battle, complete with grenades, guns, knives, combat boots and war paint.
After Jess told me the daycare story, I re-enacted that Commando scene in my home before taking a breath and ultimately deciding against destroying everything in my path as part of a violent and psychotic rampage.
Instead, I realized that this was likely the first of many times I would have this feeling as a parent. There is a certain helplessness to it, of course, but it’s also about the realization that I mentioned above that she will soon find out that not everyone - to many varying degrees - will be as loving and caring towards her as her parents and her grandparents have been.
It feels like that has been somewhat of a realization for us as parents as well. There will be stuffy antics (the children are between one and three years old, I’ve had to tell myself, these things are going to happen), there will be comments and bullies and disappointments. Down the road - God help me - there will be ended friendships and relationship break-ups and loss and it will be our job to be there for her rather than assaulting everyone in our path at the hint of even the slightest inconvenience.
It really is as much of a lesson for us as it is for her, but we’re likely to be the ones who will remember it most clearly.
As Jess and I have embarked on this parenting journey, we’ve heard many wise words from family, friends and neighbours about what to expect and how to handle it. We’ve gone through some things and felt very alone (the pandemic didn’t help with that), only to find out that just about every other set of parents out there has gone through the exact same thing. This situation is no different.
I have found that comforting over the past two years and I now try to treat that as my default reaction. Instead of feeling alone, I just assume that most other parents have been right where I am when something happens. It keeps me grounded and out of a garden shed, throwing circular saw blades at my enemies (another relevant scene from Commando).