I went to the movies and when the film was over the family in front of me was leaving. The adults were older and the child was probably around four years old. The older woman was very heavy and had mobility issues. She had a hard time navigating herself down the stairs in the dark, and could not pay any attention to the child. It took all she had to get herself safely down the stairs heading towards the exit. The child began asking for help and seeking guidance to navigate the stairs in the dark. The woman turned around and spoke sharply to the child, and I noticed the child tensed up. Once they all made it down the long staircase and into the aisle towards the exit, the child quickly passed the woman and grabbed the hand of the man. The tension was removed and the woman worked hard to keep up with the family.
As I observed all this it made my heart ache. I know the older woman was doing everything she could to move forward, yet her own physical limitations prevented her from being able to care for the small child. The man was far ahead of the other two and relatively clueless as to the child’s anxiety. I watched the child fend for itself working to navigate the anxiety and building fear of moving through the dark.
As I drove home I thought about the responsibility we have as adults to take care of ourselves so we are able to take care of those within our care. We may not always want to exercise or eat right, yet the consequences of NOT governing our own health has ramifications for more than just ourselves. People depend on us to be healthy and able, and when that does not happen we jeopardize more than just our own health and safety. The child in this situation needed help, and no one was aware or able to help. They experienced fear and anxiety as a result of the adults in their life not being adults.
I also thought about how the child was not taught or aware of how to navigate with their older guardians. Was that out of fear or uncomfortableness? No one wanted to talk about the ailments of the older people? Or was it simply denial and hope leading the way without thought for how a child reacts in these situations? It is hard to have the uncomfortable conversation, and none of us want to face our limitations. However when we don’t face reality we may be making a manageable situation worse. Silence is not a solution, it only makes things difficult.
As we all left the theatre, the child clung tightly to the older man’s hand. I thought about the times I am willing to face things, and the parts of life I sometimes want to avoid. The truth is a powerful ally, but only if we face it head on. As adults and loved ones of the children in this world we have an obligation to care for ourselves so we can care for the children. We need to make solid decisions so they learn to make decisions. We need to think then act, so they learn to think then act. We need to be patient with ourselves and others so we can work together to grow the next generation of adults. In the end we are the leaders and loved ones teaching our children to eventually be adults. They learn by what we do, and they mimic what we say and do. Don’t let the darkness in your own world inhibit your ability to love and lead the children in your care.
Someone is watching what you do, how you do it, and how you make them feel in that process. What they learn will become how they live, which then gets passed on to their next generation.