Growing up you have people looking out for you, people protecting you. It might be your parents. Or an older sibling. Or maybe even a really good friend.
And just about always that protector is someone older than you.
Our kids don’t always have this type of protection. Some of them don’t have parents to protect them. Some of them just fight with their siblings. They need protection from the men who buy them glue to sniff & get high. They need protection from the fights that happen on the streets. And sometimes they need protection from each other.
It wasn’t an extravagant day. We had all just been sitting around in Divisoria playing. The kids had made wolverine claws out of paper so we chased each other around the trees fighting. Everyone was laughing & had a smile on their face. Some were lying on the ground pretending to be dead from the paper claw attacks. Others were hiding behind a tree waiting to sneak attack the enemy.
In the midst of all of the fun & laughter I looked over to see two kids very upset with each other. The yelling & slapping escalated until one of the boys was ready to throw a rock at the other.
As someone who wants to protects these boys from any harm I knew we had to first pry the rock out of his hands and then make sure he didn’t try to fight the other boy.
The rock was finally pried out of his hands and he was held tightly in an embrace.
But that wasn’t good enough.
After a long time of sitting calmly & assuming he wasn’t so upset anymore he got up and walked over to a tree. Beside the tree was a massive stone. He was still so angry & again ready to throw the massive stone & hurt the other boy.
I knew this had escalated to a point where he was either going to hurt the other boy, damage a car, or hurt himself. I snuck around behind a car and grabbed him in a tight embrace. We sat on a bench for a long time with him between my arms and legs. It was definitely a struggle to continue holding him but I knew for the protection of both boys I had to continue.
As time passed he eventually calmed down and got to a point of not wanting to fight anymore.
But I left there drained. Worried about what happens when I’m not there. Knowing these kids need more protection than a few hours a day when I am around.
And if it wasn’t for the next day I might still be stuck in this mindset.
But the next day the roles were completely reversed. I was no longer the protector. I was the one being protected.
As everyone was playing a game I noticed one of our kids off to the side so I went to sit with her. She wasn’t happy but she didn’t want to talk about what was wrong. So we just sat there.
Until another boy came up and began messing with me. She immediately told the boy to stop & to leave. As he continued screaming she yelled for someone else to tell him to leave me alone. He left for a few minutes but as soon as he came back she again told him to stop and kept whispering in my ear that he was high & she just wanted him to leave me alone.
I had gone over to her to see what was wrong with her and instead she wanted to take care of me.
I realized that’s just how life is. Some days people need you to protect them. They need to be taken care of. They need to be embraced with love so they won’t hurt themselves.
And then other days you need to be the one embraced. You need to be forced to sit still & talk about what is wrong.
I think it’s a beautiful picture of how we need each other. How we need to be both a protector & be protected.