Yesterday, Laurel went outside to play with a neighbor boy in the woods.
Ethan desperately wanted to go. He begged me to go. He begged Laurel to let him go.
Laurel did not want him to go.
I could have forced Laurel and her friend to let Ethan tag along, but I respect Laurel’s need for space.
I did not let him go.
Distraught, he scrambled onto my lap for comfort. His heartbroken sobs made me want to cry, too. My only consolation, minute though it was, was knowing he was learning three hard, universal lessons:
- Big sisters do not want their little brothers to follow them everywhere;
- One is not always welcome to be part of a group; and
- Being excluded hurts.
As I held him and wished with every fiber of my being that I could make it better, I realized that parenting is a whole series of little heartbreaks.
But without the heartbreaks, we couldn’t appreciate the joys.