Enough With the Suspicion Already!
A recent story on the site Medium is by a dad whose 2-year-old wanted to take a walk in the rain with him, stomp in some puddles and be "dangled" by him -- which sounds like sort of hanging onto his hand while he pulls her along, not actually being dragged across the pavement.
Nonetheless, a passing van saw the two, and, reports the dad:
"I hear a man's voice behind me calling, 'Sir, sir, stop right there, I've called the police.'"
The story from then on is long and convoluted -- cops arrive; no charges are made. (Yay!) But the folks in the van, a man and a woman clearly on a child-saving high, keep tailing the guy, refusing to consider the drenched daddy-daughter duo as anything less than nefarious.
It's an awful encounter, but that would be just that -- except for two things that strike me as significant.
First is how much the dad is shaken by the encounter. He muses:
"How many other people think I'm mistreating her? Was van man just a male Karen, or was I really mistreating her? Am I still mistreating her? What other 'unusual' things am I doing with her? When will someone call me out for something next? Will they call the police again, or will it play out differently next time, with someone taking matters into their own hands?"
When you're living in an era that considers everyday parenting decisions to be something that the average passerby deserves a say in, it is really easy to start second-guessing yourself.
This is even more true when we are convinced that any unhappy childhood memory or event can affect a child for life. It's true: A miserable childhood is not over and done with once a child grows up. But we've forgotten the flip side: Mother Nature never expected kids to get through 18 years without some tears and fears and jeers. That's why kids are innately resilient.
Not pain-proof. Resilient.