It has become standard practice in the Lenshyn household that when I’ve been away for a weekend, which happens about once a month, I take my 2 year old son Asher out to McDonald’s for some ‘food’ and playtime in the ‘playplace’ for some quality father/son time. These past weeks have been quite busy, so this past Friday we decided to make it a family affair.
The food can be sketchy, that is a given. Have you ever heard of the McGirggles? But entering the ‘playplace’ which is cordoned off by 4 walls and a glass door from the rest of the joint is like entering a whole new world of chaos where survival of the fittest rules apply. On this typical rainy British Columbia evening the ‘playplace’ was populated with a giant 14 year old (seriously, the size of an Ent), a few 10 year olds, a few kids in the 3-4 age range, and my 2 year old son who stands eye to eye with many 3 year olds. As we walk in I’m thinking to myself, ‘this is a great place for my son to learn how to play with other children.’
About 10 minutes go by and I find myself sitting there watching my son get pushed over by some seemingly maniac 4 year old whose grandfather, amidst all the noisy craziness of the playplace jungle was asleep in the corner of the room. I was paralyzed. Luckily, as I sat in a daze, my beautiful wife elbowed me with her sharp bony elbows encouraging me to go rescue my pushed over son. At the moment her elbow poked my side I sprung into action like a father of the year hopeful, picking up my wailing son and giving the 4 year old girl a stare down that even Dirty Harry himself would be proud of. At the moment of my son’s rescue, as if an alarm clock had gone off, the grandfather jumped up, hurried over in a stumble and asked if his grand-daughter had pushed over my son. Awkwardly, as I sat down I muttered ‘yes.’
It wasn’t the Ultimate Fighting Championship style takedown/push that my son endured like a 2 year old Rocky Balboa from the 4 year old girl/Amazon woman.
Ok, not an Amazon woman, she was about as tall as my son.
It wasn’t even that my son was a bit distraught from the whole experience. It was my feeling of ineptness in that moment to protect my son from the harm that came his way. I froze. ‘I love him too much to freeze’ I thought to myself wondering how I can prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
It prodded the seemingly familiar question deep within my parental soul; how do I navigate the tension between action and inaction in those parental moments where I find myself hoping beyond all hope that my decision, whatever it may be, will be for the betterment of my child for decades to come?
I have no answer to that question as of yet. I’m not really sure if I ever will. If you want an answer, it may be in your best interest to find the real father of the year and ask him. Whatever the answer is, protecting my son from harm feels near, or at least at the top of the list of parenting guidelines. However, I do know that my deep love for my son which is grounded in our little family, and our peace-loving Anabaptist faith orient the manner in which I act as a parent. Knowing that my son will be subjected to the world like everyone else seems to be a tough pill for me to swallow at the moment. Especially because he is so dang beautiful and curiously innocent. If I could put my son in a bubble and protect him from the harms of this world I would. It’s a jungle out there.