One of our boys has been working on a personal narrative for his sixth-grade literature class. Today, he asked if I could help him type it, so I had a chance to read over his work.
The story begins with a group of boys playing soccer in our backyard, four of my boys and about five or six neighbors. With that many boys, you can imagine the game’s energy and speed and sure enough, the ball gets kicked over the fence and across the nearby road.
“We were playing a good game of soccer,” writes my son, “when someone accidentally kicked the ball over the fence. They made me get it.”
My son goes on to explain that as he crossed the road he looked both ways “when suddenly Surprise Attack! A white van coming probably 50 mph on a 25 mph road came out of nowhere! I had to run so fast that stopping that fast pushed me onto my tippy toes. I had stopped in the nick of time.”
His narrative ends where all my memories of the incident begin – my boys running into the house, wide-eyed, telling me of the narrow miss. My son, dazed and shell shocked, telling me how the van just appeared, flying past him at lightning speed.
I remember thinking, as my pack of boys told me about the terrifying experience, that for boys fear can sometimes look a lot like anger. My son’s older brothers were so quick to yell at him for almost getting hit. Instead of hugging each other or consoling the near-victim (as girls would do), my sons were all stirred up and agitated.
Life with boys can be so complicated.
What was even more interesting to me, as I read my son’s personal narrative, was that I had somehow forgotten about this scary thing that had happened not so long ago. Of course when I read the story it came with perfect clarity, right down to the sleepless night I had following that afternoon, to the moment I realized I had to choose not to dwell (with fear) on the what-if’s and the could-have-beens.
Like parents everywhere, we’ve had our fair share of near misses and frightening moments. We’ve been to the emergency room with broken bones (only two thus far) and sliced fingers, and an extended relationship with the local burn center when one of our boys spilled ramen noodles on his leg (we no longer buy ramen noodles).
Somehow, we go on.
As parents, each of us really do take our heart outside of our chest and watch as it now lives and breathes in the form of another human being – or five or six other humans. There it is – our life, our love, our everything – walking around in a 12-year-old’s body and we pray that God will protect and guide and keep safe this precious creature.
Then, somehow, little by little, we exhale. We don’t forget the scary moments, but we realize we can’t let them control us either. Because what good would that do us?
Two of our boys are going on a Scouting trip soon, a “wilderness survival weekend” and I’ll admit right here I’m allowing my husband to handle the details. If I know too much, I will likely freak out. I use the brain God gave me in raising our sons – but I keep in mind that what I have is a female’s brain, and maybe that brain relies a tad more on emotions that your average young man might need.
So I pray. I trust. I give it to God. I trust my husband. I think about all the adventure that is in store for my sons. If I focus on all the good in front of us – instead of the scary times we’ve endured – we all come out ahead.