… from the bungalow

Reality Check: An emotional sucker punch


As parents we sometimes love to joke about how “special” kids can be. We even occasionally bitch about parenting. That’s normal. Parenting can at times be as much fun as herpes. Not that I have the herp, but I hear it sucks. It tends to flare up and recede, much like the difficulties of parenthood. Also, both are also preventable from spreading with a little precaution.

But then there are times when you gain a little perspective. You hear someone’s story or you watch a touching movie and–bam–emotional sucker punch. There’s really nothing like gaining perspective to bring you back to reality.

Admittedly, I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve felt annoyed or exasperated with one of my kids. (My dad seemed constantly exasperated with me as a kid and I think it took root.) I sometimes fall into the trap of letting my kids feel like an intrusion on my day. Dad, Dad, Daddy, Daddy, DADDY… What?! I wanted to tell you that (insert inane, decidedly non-urgent fact here). Great, grand, wonderful–thanks for sharing–I’m so glad to know that…

I think we’re all guilty of it at times. But how often do we take a step back, look at things from outside ourselves–aside from our egos–and really take inventory of our family’s awesomeness? How often do we truly appreciate the beauty in our children and see them as an integrated blessing in our daily lives rather than an intrusion on our time? I don’t know about you, but I could stand to do it more often.

I’d love for you to think of the next eight minutes as an investment and watch this video, even if you’ve already seen it. I saw this video yesterday morning and had to share it on my Facebook page. As a parent and a music therapist, it hits me hard. This here’s a real sucker punch to the emotional kidney.

Did you watch it? Can you imagine abandoning your child at the age of three? Maybe they didn’t want him, or worse, maybe they simply couldn’t keep him and it wrenched their guts to leave him at an orphanage. And the thought of that poor little kid, selling gum on the streets in front of night clubs… I know this crap happens a lot more than we think about, but this kid right here, this kid with a voice full of potential, this kid with the soft-spoken demeanor of someone who doesn’t find a lot of worth in himself, this kid with a dream–this kid with a name and no family to speak it, a face and no family to touch it, and a voice and no family to hear it: this kid deserves as much love as the next, yet probably has never been told “I love you.” He’s probably never been tucked in at night and kissed on the forehead. He may not ever have been read to and cuddled. He’s probably never been tickled until he couldn’t breathe.

I can’t even begin to imagine the heartache I would feel if one of my little ones were left to fend for themselves like this kid was. Calling it unjust is a gross understatement. Yet he has a dream. This is another great example of adversity building character. Even the judge chokes out the words, “I just want to give you a hug,” between sobs. I wanted to tell him, simply, “thank you.”

If we let them, these little reality checks can have a long-lasting and profound effect on us. Will I remember this video clip forever? Probably not. But as for tonight, I’m going to listen to my kids a little more intently, squeeze them a little more tightly, and love them a little more wholeheartedly because they deserve it.

And because I can.

My boys washing my car

Yep, I think I'll keep 'em.


Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College administrator, parent, soapmaker.

31 thoughts on “Reality Check: An emotional sucker punch

  1. Great stuff, Chris…very inspiring.

  2. Hey chris!! Great post. I’m on the bus without headphones so I cant watch the video but even without it, this post is an excellent reminder.thanks chris!

    • Thanks, Kell. You can actually watch this video sans audio since it’s subtitled. It helps to hear his voice, but that’s not the most remarkable thing about it. Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately. I’ll be catching up on your posts this week. 🙂

  3. You made my eyes do a weird watery thing.
    And you made me hug my girls.
    Thankyou 🙂

  4. Yeah this just made me cry…what a heart wrenching story, I’ll certainly be squeezing my kiddos a little tighter. 🙂 Thanks for the perspective…some days as parents we need it.

  5. What a fabulous post! I’m so glad I saw it today. Children grow up so fast. It seems as though you blink and they are driving your car and graduating high school! I miss the days when they were young ( a little ) but they have grown into two great teens. Thanks for the reminder of how precious they are!

  6. Great post, love. I heart you lots. Thanks for loving the kids.

  7. I was 19 when I became pregnant and 3 days before my 20th I was told my child would have one of a few genetic disorders and eventually die. And if he didn’t die he’d not accomplish anything.
    My boy is now 10 and full of energy, personality, compassion and love. He has more than his fair share of medical issues, 13 surgeries (I think, maybe 14) to date, many hospital stays and has been known by name in a few EDs.
    Some tell me they feel sorry for me. That they couldn’t imagine. I’m confused by this. Through my son’s many medical issues and my career path (I’m a pediatric nurse) I have seen parents leave with out their kids. Or have to rely on home health nurses to come to their homes in order to take a shower or go grocery shopping. I’m very confident that I will never take my kids for granted. I’m lucky that they are here and will one day support each other as siblings should.
    I could have never taken my son home. He’s here and he is beautiful.

    • Thanks, JM. I’m so glad you’re one of the parents who finds the beauty in your situation. I also have a child with special needs. His needs are not so severe that he requires medical procedures, but it did change the way I do things. I hope you’ll check out my post called The Little Professor. 🙂 I think you’ll enjoy that one.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. This is a very sweet and reflective post. I have teenagers and that can be a challenge in itself – you might want to pay someone to take them off your hands!! BUT it’s the little moments that make me feel as though its worth all the effort and more. I’m constantly explaining to my kids the importance of service and giving back to the community . Yesterday was our volunteer night as a family and I ‘finally’ saw the lights turn on. I feel confident that this is a value that will become apart of thier lives forever. WHEW!!

  9. words….I don’t have them. Well done, person I’ve never met and don’t know. Thank you for a much needed reality check. Special needs or not, my kid is perfect the way she is and the thought of any child being abandoned and left without star wars bedsheets or the going to bed book, let alone airplane rides, bear hugs and big squishy squeezes makes me cry. I tip my hat to you. 🙂

    • Haha! Thanks a bunch, Kathie. Glad I could help provide that for you today. Kids need squishy squeezes alright. Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll be back.

  10. Beautiful. The picture of the boys is just precious. Congratulations for getting them to wash your car! I bet they were proud of themselves!

    • Thanks! Yeah, they might have been if they hadn’t quit halfway through to pursue something less work-related. As soon as the suds started to run out they were outta there.

  11. I feel the same way as the judge. The first thing I wanted to do was just hold him and be a shoulder for him to cry on.
    One day a student came into the office and while telling part of his story about an appeal he started getting very teary-eyed, and I just wanted to grab him and be momma – hold him and say “it’s okay, let me walk you up to the counseling center.” It just breaks my heart to see someone in pain – and has no one to cry on. Breaks. My. Heart.
    I wish I could do more.

    • Emma, I think that just feeling that way puts a certain energy out to the universe and helps in some way. And feeling it makes a real difference in how you treat your own child. You and I are just two people, and it may feel like it doesn’t make much of a difference, but as of the time of this comment, 1,657 people have at least looked at this post, and the number keeps rising. That’s a lot of connected hearts, right there. 😉

  12. This post got lost in my inbox. I remember Nikki sharing it when you posted it and I was slammed at work that day (obviously not today). I am so glad I took the time to finally read it and to watch the video. That boy is an inspiration and your post is a reminder of the profound impact we have on our children. Of how every time I respond to her with even the slightest tinge of annoyance in my voice, I want to punch myself in the face because all she wants to do is share some new discovery (no matter how inane) with me. I’ve been working on this the past week or so and it feels so good to just engage with her better. And your post is affirmation. Thank you.

  13. we all need to stop and smell the roses more often. it’s really easy, and it feels good too.

  14. Wow, blown away. Love your writing style, and thanks for making me stop to enjoy my kids. No matter how insane they make me.

    • I’m sorry I didn’t reply to this comment before now! Our kids are good at making us crazy, aren’t they? But if we didn’t care about them, they wouldn’t have that effect. Thanks for reading!

  15. Beautifully and powerfully said, Chris. You could have whispered it with the same wonderful results. I just signed up to follow your blog. This post was one of the reasons–and it was your words even more than that wonderful video that moved me. Thank you!


    • Wow, thank you, Russ. I appreciate your words and the connection that was made here. I also benefited from revisiting this post. Thanks for your comment, and welcome to the blog!

  16. Goosebumps! Love your writing style.

    Thanks for sharing this video. I think we all can relate to the part where he says he just wants to be normal.

    You are right that such moments give you a reality check. There are so many beautiful things around us that we take for granted in life and so many unnecessary things that get undivided attention from us.

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