Things seemed so simple with the kids for a good long while.
Sure, they might have flipped out if I cut a sandwich wrong or let their chicken touch the peas, but I felt like I had a pretty good handle on things. I knew their sleeping patterns, their favorite snacks, the sports they were playing, and what was happening at playschool.
Everything still seemed decently clear cut when they moved on to kindergarten. Early elementary brought more reading and math, but I still handled their extracurriculars and knew who they were playing with after school. While I could feel a slight distancing as T-man and Bear grew more independent, I felt plugged in enough to know what was going on in their lives.
And then there was that day I realized just how blind we can be.
We were in the kitchen after school. I was looking through their papers while T-man and Bear were grabbing a snack before starting on homework. I can’t for the life of me recall how we got onto the topic, but I sure remember my shock when T-man blurted out that it’s okay for parents to hit their kids.
Something about it didn’t ring right, and I remember telling T-man no, it actually wasn’t okay for parents to hit their kids. And then I experienced that horrifying moment when you find out two years ago one of your kid’s classmates would show up at school with bruises.
A million questions rampaged through my head. What do you mean, your friend came in with bruises? His parents were hitting him? And instead of telling me or the teacher, you came to the conclusion that it must be okay for parents to hit their kids?!
It hurt to learn that I missed something so big in my son’s life. That T-man would actually look at another child and think for even one second it was okay for a parent to leave bruises on him.
It just goes to show that you think you know, but you don’t.
Those kids are out of my sight for at least eight hours a day right now, and that time will only increase as they grow older. There’ll be a hundred tiny things – questions, experiences, influences – that affect their worldview. And the only way to keep my eyes open in the midst of that flood will be to talk, often and openly, about what the kids are living day to day.