June 28, 2011


Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” is among the more famous novels about a child who suffers abuse. In the real world, too many of these stories are truth. But even well-intended parents face challenges as they raise a family. In fact, it’s always seemed to me that having a child requires a good deal of courage. Like the beds in Goldilocks, sometimes it’s difficult to find the right fit between doing too much or too little and doing things just right. Still, it’s amazing how many parents do get their responsibilities right and when they do, it has heartwarming consequences.    

In my park walk the other day, a man ahead of me was strolling with his St. Bernard. Approaching from the opposite direction was a mother and father with a girl of about three who was running to keep ahead of them. When she clapped eyes on the dog, she squealed with joy and rushed forward, ready to make a new friend. That joy turned to fear, however, when she discovered the animal towered over her. Her second scream was one of fear and she lurched backwards just as her parents hurried forward to catch her. Wisely, the dog owner ordered his pet to sit and the child, with her parents standing on either side, was encouraged to touch the animal. I walked by hoping all would end well, and then shortly after, I heard a third cry. This time, however, the sound was one of pure delight. Turning round, I watched as the toddler, too small to put her arms around the dog’s neck, buried her fingers and face into its thick, shiny coat. Next she peeked up at her parents as if seeking their approval for what she’d done. Their smiles told her it was all right, and certainly the St. Bernard offered no objection. Thanks to these wise and comforting parents, a crisis was averted that could have ended in a lifelong fear of dogs.  

(Yahoo Images)

That scene is probably played out in thousands of parks on any sunny day.  Strangers might not notice the small miracle of parents helping a son or daughter conquer fear. But on that day I did notice and because of it, I want to honor all the well-intended mothers and fathers in the world who struggle daily to perform the most difficult job ever created.