My son was scheduled for a medical procedure in which the day before he has to be on a clear liquid diet. Not fun for anyone, but especially not for a growing, typically ravenous tween. To try to alleviate some of the misery, we went overboard buying about every single item on the list of approved pre-procedure diet. I figured, if you can’t eat, you might as well have three different flavors of Jello to choose from. On top of the multiple flavors, I even made two types, plain Jello and Jello jigglers. He was still miserable, but, as it often happens in life, it was just something he had to get through.
As a parent, the worst thing is to see your child in pain or suffering, whether physically or emotionally. We want to make it better. When our children are hurt, we feel their pain viscerally. When they are young, we want to be able to rush in with a bandaid or a hug and a kiss and relieve them of their burden. As they get older, we want to protect and warn them against the many formidable issues they will have to grapple with: peer pressure, dating, driving. In spite of our best efforts, our children will get hurt. They will fall off the swing, they will fall off their bike. They will have their heart broken, they will have consequences from poor decision making. They will be let down and disappointed by friends.
We can’t protect them from everything. We can’t always make everything better. Sometimes all we’ll be able to do is make the bad stuff palatable. We can still sit with them in the mess so they know they aren’t alone. Sometimes the best we can do is offer three flavors of Jello.