Protecting Innocence


I’ve had trouble coming up with a transition from our last two posts of my Ma’s advice, to something else. On one hand, you’ve likely been reading many useful, heartfelt and poignant articles, essays and posts. Who am I to comment? I still don’t feel confident in what to tell myself. I’m not an authority or even a writer. My kids are healthy. I’m just a mom who likes to bake cookies, cut felt, use sarcasm, and has a helpful mother. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem right to breeze directly past it into another felt craft. So bear with me while I struggle through.

Here is how the tragedy in Newtown has affected me: I often picture my children’s naïve faces looking at, listening carefully to, and trusting their teachers, who I know would act as calm, brave and protectively as those in Connecticut. I am heartsick for the families affected and the children who witnessed this, and pray that they can heal. I am grateful yet scared. Confused and sympathetic.


Each generation idealizes their childhoods into a mystical place that we want the next generation to similarly enjoy. Now we are old enough to know what the good stuff was, and what would be nice to avoid or put off until later. We can see our children’s pure optimistic idealistic trusting view of the world, and we want to protect that as much as possible, because we wish everyone still had it as whole-heartedly.


A lot goes in to protecting our children and their innocence from the changing world. There are many measures in schools, towns and society as a whole already in place and always being improved. Many things cannot be planned for or anticipated.


Here are a few guidelines we can use in our homes to aid in protecting childhood innocence:


  1. Allow all children to believe that they are truly transformed into something unrecognizable to you by putting on a costume. Costumes can range from full jumpsuit and mask, to simple cape, to a pair of sunglasses and a sneer, to a napkin strategically balanced on a head.
  2. Pretend that you do not see them in their hide-and-seek hiding spot. Even if it’s the only spot they ever hide in every time you play. Pass through the spot at least twice without looking muttering something to the effect of “Where could she be? She’s not under the pillow.”
  3. Stifle the words “$hit” and “cr@p” while they are in the kitchen and you are cooking dinner, similarly “idiot” and “a-hole” while you are driving them in the car.
  4. Encourage spontaneous dance parties as often as possible, even if it is the middle of dinner.
  5. Unless directly questioned in a private conversation by a child over the age of 9 who has legitimate evidence, do not reveal information contrary to the existence of the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, fairies in general, frogs that turn into princes, baby delivering storks, band-aids that make things suddenly better, stuffed animals that can defend against bad dreams, or peas that are guaranteed to make you big and strong.
  6. When asked which hand the golf ball is in, first guess the small fisted hand instead of the one with the golf ball peaking out. Act duped when it’s empty.
  7. Make them believe that they can squeeze your hand so hard that it hurts, jump higher than you, run faster than you, beat you in every game, count to 100 faster than you, and wriggle out of your tightly squeezed arms, enough that they feel confident, strong, smart, fast and skilled, but not enough that you aren’t still their hero.
  8. Remember that you are Mama Bear. You are the boss and you are in charge. Teach your cubs to hunt, fish, forage, find their way, build a home, climb a tree and back away from porcupines. Teach them that sometimes the honey is worth the bee stings. You will stomp, growl, show your teeth and charge anyone who gets in between you and your cubs. At the end of the day, lead them back to the warmth and safety of your den and hold them close.


Good luck.

Tomorrow, I’m posting a cookie recipe.

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  1. Beautifully stated Jenny. Thanks.

  2. This was magnificent. And you say you’re not a writer. This whole piece made me smile and laugh out loud … my favorite line: “Sometimes the honey is worth the bee stings.”

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