It is not our job to protect children from pain, it's our job to guide them through it
Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash
shallow focus photography of two boys doing wacky faces

My daughter and I were at the park last week — running, jumping, chasing ducks, and playing tag — when the unthinkable happened: when she was mocked and teased for the first time.

The very first time.

Of course, my initial reaction was full of hurt and sadness, anger and rage. I wanted to swoop in and hug my daughter. I wanted to swoop in and protect my daughter, and I wanted to go full on mama bear on the little twerp who thought it was okay to make fun of girls because she (and her friends) were just that: young women. Young ladies. Creatures of a different sex. But my mind told me I shouldn't. My mind told me I need to sit back and calm down, and my mind forced me to check myself. It told me to stop and pause and leave my insecurities at the door. Because while I hate to see my daughter struggling — while I hate the fact that my sweet, innocent, kind-hearted, and free-spirited 4-year-old girl is already experiencing feelings of disappointment, rejection, judgement, and being let down — I know that, in order to grow, I must let her face these things. I know that I must let her feel these things, and I know that if I want her to become a well-rounded human being, I will have to let hurt. I will have to let her cry.

So I stepped back, stood by, and waited.



I tapped my foot, bit my nails, picked at the skin between my thumb and my forefinger, and waited.

And while my daughter didn't run away, nor did she cry, she was visibly frustrated. She was upset and, well, she was annoyed. But just as I was getting ready to speak up, moments before I stepped forward to yell her name, she decided to say something. She decided to tell this boy he was being "mean" and "not nice." And while my daughter, my 4-year-old little girl, handled herself well — while she handled herself with poise and confidence, self-respect and pride (well that, a low-blown swipe at his face) — I was still rattled because my gut told me I needed to do more.

Because inside, I yearned to do more.

Of course, I know this desire to "save her" and "help her" comes from my own painful childhood, i.e. I was a quiet girl. A shy girl, and a girl who ran from bullies, literally. I once ran through a row of bushes and hid behind a tree. And I always cowered. For years, I swallowed my voice and my words. But now? Now I want to scream. Now I want to yell. Now I want to advocate and intervene on her behalf. But I know that is not what she needs. I know that that is not what I need, and while I want to protect my daughter from the world — while I want to shield her from the hurt and sadness, from anger, fear, disappointment, and pain — I cannot because doing so would be a disservice.

I need to "help her help herself."

2 women walking on the road during daytime Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Make no mistake: I know not everyone will agree with my parenting approach, i.e. I know it sounds distant and callous, cold and harsh but I'm not pushing her in front of traffic and seeing if she runs. I'm not dropping her off in the woods and seeing if she can find her way home, and I'm not "tossing her to the wolves" and then traipsing off in the other direction while she wallows in sorrow, in pain, or in despair. I am simply standing back and looking on. I am guiding her and advising her from the sidelines. Which, I assure you, is harder than you know.

But the "lessons" don't end there. You see, we talk about these incidents long after they end. We talk about these encounters long after they end, and we talk everything and anything from what she could have done or said to her feelings, her thoughts, and (yes) asking for help. I explain to her that, sometimes, she can and should ask for help and remind her that there is no shame in doing so. Even Mommy's and Daddy's need guidance from time to time.

So yes, while watching her flail and — at times — fall is sad, heartbreaking, and full of tears, I firmly believe it is one of those tough aspects of my job. Of my role as "mom." Because, as my parent, my job isn't to numb her feelings — or protect her from her feelings — it is to teach her how to acknowledge them, how to cope with them, and how to move through them.

I need to help her develop the resilience or self-confidence she needs to take with her through life.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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