On Second Thought: Children are invincible, or so they think

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 5, 2023

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By Marie Harrison

For the Clemmons Courier

Many years ago, my family traveled to the Outer Banks to watch my sister get married. Our family rented a large beach house with plenty of rooms, and soon, everyone piled in. My kids were excited to see their aunt get married and serve as ring bearer and flower girls in the ceremony, but probably the thing they were most looking forward to about the trip was the chance to sleep in a room filled with bunk beds and their cousins. And everything about the trip went swimmingly until the morning of the wedding.

That morning, my husband and I were awakened by a loud thud followed by an ear-shattering scream. We quickly jumped up and ran down the hall to the bunk room, only to find our middle daughter lying in a heap on the floor, crying. Her older brother and cousin were standing to the side of the room, looking both guilty and scared, while her younger sister sat on the bed, silent.

As we tried to comfort our 5-year-old daughter while at the same time assessing whether there were any broken bones or bleeding, we repeatedly asked our 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter what had happened. And we got nothing. Nobody was talking. Clearly, everyone in the room knew what had happened, and nobody was willing to spill the beans lest they risk getting in trouble. When we finally reached a point where we knew our daughter was injury-free, bruised and banged up, but there was no need for a trip to the emergency room, we set our sights on figuring out what in the world had transpired.

My husband quickly homed in on the weak link: our youngest daughter, who had obviously seen everything and, with the right coaxing, would be willing to sing like a canary. And sing she did. Apparently, our middle daughter had been hesitant to come down the ladder from her spot on the top bunk. Our son and his cousin, both around 7, had devised an alternate plan to get her down, straight out of the cartoons and movies they had watched.

They grabbed a quilt off one of the beds and proceeded to hold it “fireman style” as they encouraged our daughter to jump from the top bunk. As you can imagine, this plan was filled with pitfalls. The quilt was flimsy. Two seven-year-olds lacked the strength to adequately hold it off the ground and catch a 50-pound child barreling off the top bunk. And so, when our daughter jumped, she landed on the quilt but quickly collided with the floor. What in the world would make our seemingly level-headed children think that a plan like this could work? Simple, kids are invincible, or so they think.

As I talked with a parent this week about their child and the crazy things they had done, all in the name of invincibility, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own children. What is it about kids that makes them think they can do absolutely anything and never get hurt? Have they just not lived enough life? Have they not been scarred by injuries or doubt? Are their brains just not developed to the point of critical thinking? I think the answer lies in the child-like faith so many of our children exude. Kids can do anything because they believe wholeheartedly in themselves. They don’t let the doubts of the world creep in, and the fear of the unknown dictate their actions. If they can dream it, they can achieve it. And while a little common sense wouldn’t hurt, what would us adults be like if we exhibited that same child-like faith? What could we do if we didn’t let doubt creep in?

Doubt is a powerful thing. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent caused Eve to doubt God, thus leading to that fateful bite of the forbidden fruit. How many times have we, too, let the enemy cause us to doubt what we feel called to do? The urge to go and pray for someone until we doubt their reaction? The calling to change careers until we doubt our abilities? What could we achieve if we learned to silence the enemy, and silence the doubt, and truly listen to God?

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes doubt and common sense are powerful, useful and definitely from God. But sometimes, we need to take a cue from our children’s books. To learn to live with invincibility. To not be afraid to take chances. To live with the assurance that God can indeed work all things for our good. Should we boldly go flying off the top bunk into a waiting quilt? No. But should we do the things we feel called to do, even when they scare us? Yes. Doubt is powerful, but God is greater, and if we truly want to defeat the enemy, sometimes we just have to be willing to take a flying leap.