When you're rearing an HSC (highly sensitive child), it can sometimes be hard to judge the extent to which you should shield him from things you know will upset him. On the one hand, you want to protect him from undue stress. If he doesn't like Halloween decorations, what is there to be gained by making him go places where he's going to encounter them? At the same time, you don't want to coddle him. The older he gets, the more he's going to find himself in situations where he has to handle things on his own, without Mom or Dad going ahead to make sure it's safe. So as a parent, you look for opportunities to "gently" toughen him up (assuming that's not a total oxymoron).
Yesterday in Evan's history book* we read about the Lewis and Clark expedition. The author recounted how, when the explorers ran out of food, they were forced to kill one of the horses for meat. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth, I looked at Evan. So far, so good. He was frowning, but handling it. But then we read the next paragraph:
"The horsemeat kept them from starving. But if they killed too many horses, they wouldn't be able to move fast enough to survive. So they ate some of the hunting dogs as well. . . . "
Uh-oh. There was more about how Clark disliked the dog meat while Lewis liked it, but we didn't get that far. Instead we stopped reading and I explained to my crying son that as terrible as it sounds to us as dog lovers, the humans had to come first. Not only is a human's life more valuable than an animal's, but if the humans had died of starvation, the rest of the animals would have perished as well because there would have been no one to take care of them. Evan absorbed all of this while lying on the floor trying to comfort our own dog, who he was certain was traumatized by the history lesson.
Eventually, with the passage in question behind us and the tears stemmed, we read on. But moments later, I saw this one coming: "In all that time, only one of the party had died--from appendicitis."
Sigh. Evan has long had a fear of getting appendicitis. Did his mom do an on-the-fly edit? What do you think?
*The Story of the World, Vol. 3, Susan Wise Bauer