This Is One Mistake I Won’t Make Again

We are sitting on the bedroom floor, Henry and I, the bedroom his Aunt Morgan grew up in. I have a book in my hand, a fun one. I’m excited to read it to him. He likes to turn the pages in the books we read together. When he’s happy, I’m happy.

We get to the page with the wild boar.

But uh-oh. Henry responds in a way I don’t expect.

I’ve always loved reading books from the time I was a child. When my own daughters were children, we read lots and lots and lots of books together. Now that we have grandchildren, I’ve already spent hours of enjoyment reading books with them.

I keep our favorite pop-up books on a high shelf that the littlest fingers can’t reach on their own. These are the special books. These are the ones we only share together.

The book I’m reading this morning with my grandson Henry has been one of my favorites. Each page is split. The top half of each page is the top half of an animal’s face and the bottom half is is the bottom half of its face. You can turn the tops and bottoms together to see the traditional animal, or mix and match to get wacky combinations.

Henry and I are doing it the traditional way. We see the owl who says hoot-hoot and flies around in the dark. We see the rabbit who likes to much carrots and hops and jumps in the grass.

And then we turn to the animal that digs up roots and snorts and grunts in the forest: the wild boar.

That’s when it happens.

Henry screws up his little face and lets out a wail. His eyes are terrified and his voice matches. A real tear rolls down his chubby cheek. This page has scared him.

I made him cry.

I feel like crying, too. I don’t want to make him sad. It’s the opposite of who I want to be in his life.

But now that I think about it, none of the grandkids have responded to this book with joy. What feels like a fun book to me has seemed like a disturbing book to them.

I put the book back on the top shelf. We won’t look at this page again. Maybe not even look at this book ever again.

There are enough scary things in life as it is. I don’t want to voluntarily create another one.

I know I can’t protect my grandchildren from all the hard things in life, just like I couldn’t protect my own children from them.

But I don’t have to unnecessarily create hard things.

Even unintentionally though, I know I’ll make many mistakes as a grandparent, just as I made many mistakes as a parent.

But when possible, I want to learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes again and again, like the mistake I made with this book.

Today forward, I’ll learn from this mistake.

At least in this book, we won’t turn to the wild boar again.

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35 thoughts on “This Is One Mistake I Won’t Make Again

  1. Lux - About Life and Love blog

    Hey, Lisa. 🙂 It’s been a while since I visited your blog and it’s like coming home.

    We learn a lot from the little ones. I’m relearning things again with my nephew who just turned two. Indeed it’s sad that life could be hard and we can’t protect our loved ones all the time. All we can do is be there for them and do what we can to help things better.

    Stay safe!

  2. Shannon

    “There are enough scary things in life as it is. I don’t want to voluntarily create another one.” I feel this way all the time!
    Figuring out the balance between sheltering our kids (and grandchildren, in your case) and helping them learn to cope with the difficulties they will inevitably face is so tough! However, learning from our mistakes is a good place to start.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly, Shannon. It’s hard to find that balance, even with ourselves. I sometimes need to push myself to do hard things when there’s a valid reason, but not otherwise. 🙂

  3. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    I hear you on this, Lisa… but don’t beat yourself up over it. Everyone responds differently—and sometimes the response simply depends on the day. LOL The most important thing is that Henry could be afraid in the presence of someone who loves him; someone he already knows is a protector and advocate for him. The next time something like this happens, try to make a game out of it. Before long, you’ll probably have a little guy who’s running around the house snorting and grunting like a boar—even if you never read that book again! 😉

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You make a good point, Susan. Henry is only 10 months old now; when he’s 5 years old, he may find the book delightful! 🙂 So I won’t throw it away, but will just put it up for now.

  4. Martha J Orlando

    We certainly can’t always predict what will scare or disturb a child, but oh, how badly we feel when what we never intended happens. Yes, this world is full of frightening things, Lisa, and we need to protect our children and grandchildren the best we can.

  5. Pam Ecrement

    This is a great story. I have observed other times when a young child or grandchild is being tossed in the air and the parent or grandparent is laughing and the child is looking scared and I always want to intervene.

    So glad you get all these story times! Our grands grow up faster than we can blink an eye so enjoy them while you can! (Our youngest of the 6 is now 17!!)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve witnessed that too. Sometimes I think kids can even be laughing themselves because they are scared and don’t know how else to handle it. It’s tough being little.

      Your grandchildren have been blessed to have you as their grandmother, Pam!

  6. Barbara Harper

    That is a scary picture for a young child’s book–I wonder why they included it.

    As grandparents and parents, sometimes we just don’t know what things will be a problem until they come up–or even years later. I’m counting on God’s grace to cover and redeem my mistakes.

    Timothy is at the opposite stage now–he really likes scary, creepy things at the moment. I’m not sure I like it. 🙂 He told his dad, while playing a game that involved a scary character, that doing so made him feel brave. I guess I can see that –conquering the bad guy under controlled circumstances can encourage you that you can conquer bad things. I’m glad I don’t have the bulk of these decisions to make any more and pray for my kids as they navigate them.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, you’re right that before long, I may be afraid of things that the grandkids like. lol. I haven’t thought about it from that angle. (Of course that doesn’t take much; I don’t like scary things and avoid them if at all possible! I’ve never gotten over watching “The Birds” as a child.)

  7. Theresa Boedeker

    Learning from our actions, this is a big part of life, isn’t it. And what one child delights in, another child may not. My daughter loved the Tale of Peter Rabbit and had it memorized before age three. I could stop anywhere and she would finish the sentence. My son, I pulled out the book when maybe he was four. We got to the page of Peter getting stuck and Mr. McGregor chasing him for rabbit pie, and he was up and running from the room, screaming. For years he did not like anything slightly scary. Peter Rabbit was put to the top of the bookcase.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your son reminds me of my youngest daughter. She didn’t even like Disney movies because there was always something “scary” in it; she didn’t want to watch anything with conflict. She has grown up to be my peacemaker child. 🙂

  8. Lisa Blair

    We never know how little ones will respond, but it’s good to evaluate, learn, and move forward in a life-giving way in the future. I think this applies to all relationships, Lisa, “I don’t have to unnecessarily create hard things.”

  9. Deborah Rutherford

    Hi Lisa, Thank you for your insights on this. I don’t have children but I feel this way if I share a story with a friend and they find the story upsetting. Yes we need to put the boars away! Excellent lesson!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No one really likes a wild boar, right? 🙂 It doesn’t matter the age, you’re right. There are times I have to ask NOT to hear a story myself if it gets too gory or upsetting.

  10. Michele Morin

    I appreciate your response. All kids are different so they respond differently. Your sensitivity is a sweet acknowledgment that your grandkids are your “neighbor “ and should be respected.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Michele. And even as kids are different, even the same kid will be different at different ages. I need to remember that and allow them to grow and change without my expectations of what they will like and won’t like. (My husband is still locked into angel food cake as his “favorite” dessert with his mom, even though it’s no longer his favorite. lol.)

  11. JeanWise

    I don’t have to unnecessarily create hard things.

    so true. and don’t we make thing hard for ourselves too let alone scaring a beloved grandchild. I think that picture would have scared me too!!

  12. Trudy

    I feel your heartbreak, Lisa. I’m glad little Henry was easily distracted to something better. Unfortunately our grandkids will face scary things in real life, too. 🙁 Sometimes that really scares me. This is a good reminder for me, too – “I know I can’t protect my grandchildren from all the hard things in life, just like I couldn’t protect my own children from them.” We just have to keep placing our kids and grandkids in the hands of our God who cares so deeply, right? Love and blessings of grace and strength to you in the midst of hard things in life!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you for your grace, Trudy. Yes, thankfully we can trust God to work in their little (and big) hearts as God works in ours. There are so many things out there that can cause us to be fearful, but at least we never have to face them all alone.

  13. Jeanne Takenaka

    Awww, Lisa. There’s something so intimate about sitting with a young child in our laps and sharing a book with them. We started reading to our boys when they were three months old. And we read to them up until they were in their early teens and schedules didn’t allow for it anymore. I still miss those days.

    I love your reminder that we can learn about our people if we just watch how they respond to situations and other things. I’m sure Henry will enjoy reading with you again, and you see his smile many times as you share your love of books with him. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, thankfully Henry quickly forgot about that book and we moved on successfully to another one, and many more since then. 🙂 Reading with kids is so fun to me. I’m grateful that my daughters enjoyed it when they were young too and now they do it with their own kids.

  14. Lois Flowers

    Good for you to put the book away, Lisa! Your grandchildren are blessed to have such a considerate grandma. Just last week my daughter Lilly was talking about a Cedarmont Kids video we had when she was little, and how scared she was when they sang the song about the knee bone connected to the thigh bone while moving a fake skeleton like a puppet. I realized later that she was terrified of skeletons, but I had no idea this particular song was so creepy to her. Live and learn, I guess. (Thankfully, she did grow out of her skeleton phobia and was even able to take Anatomy and Physiology in high school.) 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Even though it’s not funny, your skeleton story made me laugh. Glad your daughter outgrew her skeleton phobia. We never know for sure what our little ones are thinking! 🙂 I didn’t realize until years later that my oldest daughter truly was frightened of Ronald McDonald. And now that I look back, he was kinda creepy.

  15. Cindy Davis

    Aw, that is hard. Poor little guy. We keep them from the obvious dangers and scary stuff, but realistically we can’t always protect them from everything. We don’t know and can’t always anticipate how they will react to certain things.

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