A couple weeks ago, Emma had her first real tragedy. It happened after her first dental cleaning and it will change her life forever. She learned what it feels like to feel loss which is a normal thing for adults to feel on a regular basis but there was always that first loss that starts it all.What was so terrible that Emma didn’t know how to react. Let me explain.
The assistant gave Emma a little yellow balloon because she was such a good girl. Emma couldn’t have been more excited to have the little balloon. The assistant wanted to put it on Emma’s wrist, but she didn’t want to wear it, and I tried to carry it for her, but she wouldn’t let me. I knew as a parent was going to happen if she decided to carry it out on her own since she didn’t understand what would happen if she let the balloon go, but, she was not about to let anyone tell her how to carry it, so we left. We got about half way to the car (with me continuing to to tell her that I needed to carry it or she would lose it) and sure enough she let it go. You want to talk about crocodile tears. I have never heard her cry from the every bottom of her soul. I knew that she was truly in distress as she yelled “My balloon!” as it floated away.
Now I wanted to ease her pain by going in a asking for another balloon but I had to make the decision to let her deal with what the loss felt like or not. It was painful, but I decided to help her deal with the loss and not give her another balloon. One reason was because I knew she would just lose the second balloon too. So I just her took up in my arms and told her how sorry I was that her balloon got away. She wrapped her arms around my neck and cried and processed what happened for around ten minutes, but I could see the reality setting in on what loss is.
She started going through the steps just like we do. She was shocked when her balloon went up and didn’t come down, she then went into denial that her balloon was gone by calling out for it like a pet to come back, then when I wouldn’t go and get another balloon she turned toward anger and it’s probably a good thing she doesn’t have an adult vocabulary yet, but, as we left the office and made our way home, she calmed down and accepted that her balloon was gone. I was impressed at how well my two year old went through the steps of grief. I know many adults who take a lot longer to go through it on the littlest things. But I do have to say it was just as painful for me to go through it with her.
I just wanted to take the pain away but I knew that wasn’t the best for her in the long run. Then a light bulb came on in my head – that’s why God lets us go through tough times too. It isn’t because He is mad necessarily (even though a consequence is different than a trial keep in mind), but, rather, He knows that it for our greater good that He doesn’t deliver us from all our trials. If He acted like how I wanted to act by giving Emma another balloon then she (we) wouldn’t be able to learn what she (we) needed to in that moment. Now, next time, I am sure she will do better with a balloon. She might still lose it, but I betcha she will hang onto it a little bit better next time. And that is how we are.
As humans we can be pretty slow like toddlers when it comes to correction and learning from our mistakes. It might take us a few time of making the same mistake but eventually we learn to not let go of the balloon. Does that make sense? So, needless to say, the yellow balloon is a sad day in the day of Emma , but it’s a lesson that we can all benefit from.