When I first became a parent and walked the streets with my children's little hands in mine, I knew without hesitation that I would throw myself in front of a car hurtling toward them to save their lives. I understood what it meant to love someone more than my own life. Now walking down the street with the little hands of my grandchildren in mine, I have no doubt that I would do the same.
That’s the first job of parenting—unconditional protection. Offering food, shelter, clothing, love and using your adult body and knowledge to protect the vulnerable little ones and let them know you would do whatever it takes to preserve and enhance their lives. Whatever it takes.
I went swimming with 2-year old Malik and 5-year old Zadie yesterday. Malik is fearless in the water, will climb out of the pool and jump in without warning in complete confidence that I’m going to be there to catch him. I’m trying to get him to wait until the count of three, but he’s often up in the air at 2! So I have to be alert and ready to catch him.
Zadie is happy in the water, but not willing to get her head underwater yet. I tried to coax her to go down the slide and assure her that I’d catch her so she wouldn’t go under. It took some 15 false starts, much coaxing and even bribing—one ice cream cone if she did it, five if she did it and I couldn’t stop her head from going under. My uplifted arms were getting sore waiting and lo and behold, she finally did it! I fulfilled my promise of keeping her above water and assured by my trustworthiness, she went back and did it some 5 or 6 times. Whether it’s a grandchild meeting her fear of going under water or a child hesitant to take a glockenspiel solo or an adult worried about playing blues saxophone, that’s my job. Offering enough safety and security that people of any age go one step beyond their fears and discover what they’re capable of.
Some may have thought the theme of “little hands” to refer to 45. As so-called leader of the land, his job is to offer safety, security and the risk of being our best selves. Instead of leaping in front of the errant cars, I have no doubt that this man would not only refuse to do so, but would actively push us in front of the car! No doubt. Little hands, little heart, little intelligence, everything about him 10 sizes too small. The shame is without parallel.
But meanwhile, I walk the streets of Portland with the other little hands in mine, more determined than ever to protect them crossing streets, jumping in pools and dealing with mean people like him.