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It is not our job to protect children from pain, it's our job to guide them through it
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 daytimePhoto 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.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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