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My second child. Last night at the playground, she was insistent that I not help her on the pull up bar. She was going to be like the big girls, she would conquer it alone. A bar nearly five feet in the air, her legs flipped upside down, hooked around the bar, I could not NOT be there to catch her if she fell. It would have been irresponsible of me, reckless. So I took a tiny step away as she began and when she wasn't looking, I stepped in closer and steadied my hands underneath her, ready to catch her if she fell. Just in case. Holding my breath, arms like a basket and my heart in my stomach, I watched as she did it on her own. But it was the balance beam, the obstacle with the lowest center of gravity, the thing that worried me the least that sent her to the ER. Just like that, with a stumble then a fall, her knee made contact with a metal bolt and left her with a cut deep enough to require 5 stitches. The irony was not lost on me. If I could, I would protect my kids always. That innate feeling we all have, wishing it was possible. The bumps and bruises, the hurt feelings and self doubt. The "not fitting in." Instead, I stumble as I go, trying to take the right steps and not lose my balance. I only hope I have the right thing to say as the words come from my mouth. I pray that, if anything, I am giving them strength. When we were looking at Ophelia's cut and applying disinfectant, I held her hand and we told her how brave she was. She cried over and over and said "I am not brave." I clung to her tighter and thought to myself, "Oh, my girl, you are. You just don't know it yet."

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