Sometimes, We Have to Let the World Hurt Our Children

Written by Ashford Evans

Tonight we are learning a lesson. And I am heartbroken.

Maybe it’s the hormones or maybe it’s the realization that I cannot protect my baby girl. Whatever it is I cannot shake it.

Yesterday RJ (5) went to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned. She did amazing. She sat still, didn’t complain, and was the picture of perfection. As a reward at the end of the appointment she got to pick two prizes out of the treasure box. She picked a beaded bracelet and a slap bracelet (I cannot believe they are still making these things). She was so proud to wear them back to school and tell all her friends about her trip to the dentist.

When I picked her up yesterday she immediately burst into tears saying she lost the beaded bracelet. As we retraced our steps it came out that she had dropped it and another child picked it up and declared it was theirs.

Well, I did what any self-respecting parent would do. I immediately called the dentist on his cell phone (granted the dentist happens to be my father) and explained what happened and asked him to grab us another bracelet before he went home for the day. No problem. Mommy saved the day. Right?

Well, this morning RJ was insisting on wearing the slap bracelet to school.

“Baby I don’t think it’s a good idea to take the bracelet to school today. Remember you lost the other one yesterday?” I tried to reason with her.

“Well, if I lose this one we will just call Papa Roo and he can get me another one!” She matter-of-factly replied.

There it was. I realized what I had done. I had inadvertently taught her that there are no consequences in the world.

We had a big talk about the harsh reality that when we lose things they can’t always be replaced. In the end she made the decision to still wear the bracelet to school.

Tonight as I was putting her to bed she burst into tears saying she didn’t have her bracelet. Apparently one of the children at school had told RJ that if she gave her the bracelet then she would “be [her] best friend”. And so because RJ really liked this little girl she immediately handed over her prized possession in hopes of a friendship.

However, when the sun had set she realized what she had done and was devastated that she no longer had her beautiful shiny rainbow slap bracelet. She was heartbroken. The kind of heartbroken that only a five year old can be. And it broke my heart to watch her.

I held it together while I was in her room and we discussed the important lessons to be learned.

1. If someone will only be your friend because you give them things, then they are not really a friend.

2. When we give things away, they are no longer ours.

3. If someone asks us for something (or to do something) we are not obligated to say “yes” and we have not only the ability but also the right to say “no”.

4. There are consequences for our actions.

She went to bed heartbroken. I came downstairs…heartbroken.

Every fiber in my being wanted to fix this. How easy would it be to run to the dollar store and buy a pack of 50 slap bracelets? But I know I can’t or the lessons will be lost only to be learned again at a later date. And who knows what the stakes would be next time. We are getting off easy with just a bracelet.

Now I sit here and I write this and I am sobbing. What are my lessons?

1. I have to let the world hurt her.

2. I cannot protect her and shield her from everything.

3. This is building character.

I wonder how much worse this will get as she gets older? How in the world will I ever be able to handle the real heartbreaks that I know are coming if a lost bracelet brings me to my knees? Will I be able to let her learn the lessons that I know are necessary for survival in this (sometimes) cruel and twisted world? Am I strong enough to watch her fail? To watch her hurt? To watch her suffer?

But this I do know: These are important lessons. I can’t fix everything. This will make her stronger. She will be better for it. And so will I.

About the Author: Ashford is the fierce mother of three children, and three dogs in SC. She owns a farm and holds down a demanding sales career while blogging about the crazy escapades of being the bread winner and bread maker at Biscuits and Crazy.

About The Author


MomBabble

Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.

17 Comments

  1. I remember these 5 year old girl complexities so well and my daughter is 22. There is always “that kid” who is going to be the one to prompt you to explain that life isn’t always kind or fair. I think you explained the hard parts of life beautifully, mama.

  2. I love everything about this story. The struggle to want to spare out kids from pain and then realizing the mixed up messages we can send by doing so.

    I also gave a neighbor a prized possession once when I was little and almost 40 years later can remember it like it was yesterday. It’s a hard lesson but I never made that mistake again. 🙂

  3. I love everything about this story. The struggle to want to spare out kids from pain and then realizing the mixed up messages we can send by doing so.

    I also gave a neighbor a prized possession once when I was little and almost 40 years later can remember it like it was yesterday. It’s a hard lesson but I never made that mistake again. 🙂

    1. Every time I think about the things I lost as a child that were important to me, I’m grateful that I learned this lesson over relatively small items and not the big *truly* important ones.

    2. My sister (10 years older than me) once took my money in a bet- I believe I was 5. To this day I refuse to bet on ANYTHING. (Even when my hubby took me to Vegas!)

  4. Awww. Poor girl, and poor mama. I’ve experienced moments like this, and I swear it hurts us more than it hurts them. You did the right thing. And actually, I’m sort of glad she learned this lesson with a bracelet now rather than, like you said, higher stakes later on.

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