During a late-night TV binge, I was bombarded with a series of infomercials promising to flatten my stomach, straighten my spine, reshape my curves, smooth out my wrinkles, regrow my hair, soften my heels, and whiten my teeth. Just when I thought my self-esteem couldn’t take anymore (I happen to be an aspiring hypochondriac) a pack of wolves caught my attention.
With a suspense-filled accent, the narrator revealed how wolf packs survive in the frozen tundra. I was fascinated. My excitement escalated as the pack engaged in a hunt. Two massive animals were the targets: The American Bison (Buffalo) and the Caribou. I watched, though my eyelids now felt like sandpaper, the life or death struggle between these animals.
The first attack came in an open field, where a hundred or so Caribou stood among a few scattered trees. The pack charged, running directly at the herd. The Caribou broke into a panicked run, scattering across the field in every direction. Many of the Caribou never even saw the wolves. One animal started running, so they all ran. In the excitement the adult Caribou lost track of their young ones. The wolves quickly identified a few young animals and easily isolated them from the fleeing herd. Soon each calf had a half-dozen hungry wolves snapping at its feet and clinging to its back.
Sometime later the pack encountered a herd of Bison; large, front heavy animals with enormous heads and powerful chests. The pack ran at the herd, but surprisingly the Bison stood their ground. They tried to cut a young animal out of the herd, but the Bison quickly formed a tight circle that the narrator described as “circling the wagons.” The young were driven into the middle and the adult animals stood facing outward, shoulder to shoulder with their massive horned heads and powerful shoulders braced for the oncoming attacks. Many times the wolves tried to penetrate this wall of skull and fur, but each time they were repulsed. The danger to the wolves became too great and their prey was nearly impossible to reach.
I thought of my parenting and how it paralleled the scenes before me. Our children are being attacked on every-side, and as a parent it has become all too easy to get caught up in “running with the herd,” consumed with the details of my own life. Life today can be filled to overflowing with work, the gym, meetings, clubs, pins, posts, pics, and personal hobbies. Too frequently we become “separated” from our children as we run endlessly, and sometimes aimlessly, across the hillsides of life. I remembered hearing a teacher once lament, “this student is obviously having major struggles, but it doesn’t matter when I call, no one is ever home.”
Children are vulnerable. They are inexperienced, naïve, and in many ways lack the strength and stamina to face the attacks of today unprotected. Too often I have let my children be educated about life, morals, and relationships from TV series and YouTube videos that distort reality. In this electronic era, it is possible to lose track of our children, even when we are sitting in the same room.
Perhaps like the Bison, we should stop running, or at least slow down. Come back to the “herd,” circle the wagons, and reprioritize our lives. We can become more aware of the challenges facing our children. Could we return to more family dinners, more family time, and real parent-child relationships? When I was young I heard many adults say, “Where are that child’s parents?” Maybe it is time we started asking ourselves “where are my children’s parents?”
Ryan K Eggett