The pride I feel at my six year-old daughter’s ability to entertain herself in my office for hours while I’m in meetings splattered across the bathroom baseboards with her sick. On a day that featured two separate 90 minute meetings following morning worship, she spent the last part of the second meeting silently enduring a raging headache, and so when I found her she was in tears. She sobbed, “I don’t feel good” and promptly puked on her shoes.
Thing is, there were at least two additional hours of church activities on the day’s schedule. I called those off and took her home.
(Note: she’s fine. A little children’s ibuprofen and an hour long nap were enough to perk her right up and make her demand scrambled eggs for dinner)
The two parent working family is a mixed bag for kids. I have spent more than my share of indignation on the suggestion that kids are harmed by the arrangement; they’re resilient, these tiny humans, and I’m convinced they benefit from having two parents who are both engaged in important work. I have spent nearly seven years with a puffed out chest at my ability to bring my kid along to work commitments, not to mention her prodigious self-reliance.
Yesterday was a sharp pin to the sternum. It showed me the shadow side of my kid’s composure. She suffered in silence to the point of sickness. Now I wonder, how many of those long stretches in my office have been miserable for her? How brave a face has she been putting on things?
Just because kids are producing the behaviors we want in an arrangement we desire doesn’t mean they’re not suffering.