Friday, June 4, 2010

Reflections from a Friday: Innocence Lost

Gary Coleman (1968 - 2010)
My main prayer for my kids is this:

"Please protect them from harm, illness, danger, calamities or catastrophes. Protect them from monsters, especially the monster in me -- and let no one or no thing rob them of their innocence before it is time. Amen."

Last week, Gary Coleman who played Arnold on Diff'rent Strokes passed away. I used to love that show. Apparently he fell and bumped his head, and died of an intracranial bleed of some sort. Similar to when Michael Jackson passed away, sandwiched in between the quasi-flattering comments about his life were coldcuts --literally cuts-- about all the unfortunate twists his life's journey had taken. I felt sad about them both.

There are others who make me sad, too. Okay, so I admittedly do more than just thumb through People Magazine and Us Magazine. Yep I read them more than I probably should, but mostly when I want to just do something that requires zero thought. When I'm thumbing through the pages and seeing which Housewife did what, and what the Jolie-Pitt kids are up to, there is inevitably some sad, drunken picture of Lindsay Lohan. Every time I see her in those pages I feel a little sad about her, too. I imagine her freckled face in The Parent Trap and Mean Girls, and shake my head. Damn.

It all comes down to the same thing: innocence lost before it was time. There are some things that kids just shouldn't have to see. . . .or do. . . or know until they can handle knowing it.. . .or seeing it. . .or doing it. For many kids, they don't even have a choice. It seems like everything that messes people up some how traces back to someone or something that robbed them of their innocence prematurely. They spend the rest of their lives trying to make sense of it or reconcile it. . . some kids slug it out and make it. A lot don't.

I see them every day at Grady. The products of innocence lost. Confused, addicted, troubled. Then I see that tiny percent of overcomers. . . triumphant, driven, surviving. The overcomers always share some story of some person who stepped in and fought off the demons that lurked in the shadows. . . . . protecting them, believing them, needing them, cherishing them. Isn't that what we all need from the start?

Today I am reflecting on all that my loved ones did to preserve my childhood during my childhood--and I am reflecting on every single one of my patients who were dealt a different hand than my own. Those tied up in a vicious cycle of confusion, lack of resources and ill preparation. Those whose lives are manifestos of generational curses that eventually lead them to lay in hospital beds before me as my patients in this public hospital. I am pondering how blessed I am to have been placed in my family as the middle daughter of two committed young parents. I am thinking of each curfew, each "go back in the house and change clothes". . . .every "I don't care what their mama does but your mama says no." . . .and all of the "because I said so's." Thanks to my parents, for the most part, I haven't had to "slug it out."

But now times are different. Kids see more, do more, have more. It's a different beast. Sigh.


"Why can't I see Avatar, Mommy?"

"Because you are four, that's why."

"But why can't a four year old see Avatar?"

"Because it has violence and it's too mature."

"Can I see it when I turn five?"


"But why, Mommy?" (tearing up)

"Because I said so."

I'll fight to try to do the right things. Make sound decisions. And do my best to protect their innocence as long as I can--one day and one prayer at a time.

~RIP Gary Coleman


  1. I just finished reading The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. It's the story about a guy who grew up in inner city Baltimore and the Bronx and was a Rhodes Scholar. When he was at Oxford, his mother told him about a man with the same name who had been arrested for murder. Rhodes-Scholar Wes was curious and went to meet Jail-Bird Wes and wrote a book about their two lives. Although (in my opinion) the book is not a literary work of art, the message tells how family, expectations, mentors, and certainly personal choices direct our lives. Not everyone is dealt a good hand, but many people with less than desirable lives manage to turn out fine. The opposite is also true. As responsible parents, we do what we think is best for our children, but ultimately they must make their own choices in life. Good parenting, I believe, sets the foundation for good choices. I am proud of my children and the wonderful adults all of you have become. My grandchildren are in excellent hands!

  2. OK - that's not gradydoctor's comment, that's gradydoctor's mom's comment. Sorry for the confusion!

  3. Mommy, did you send this comment? I think this was you accidentally logged on as me. :) Thank you for parenting me and for protecting my innocence. Thanks to you and daddy, we don't have to slug it out! Thanks Mama!

  4. What saddened me were the online polls asking if Gary's estranged parents should be allowed at his funeral. What kind of question is that? Whatever their differences, that is their child... and who even comes up with a question like that???

    RIP, Gary Coleman.

  5. Im so glad there are mom's like you who are fighting to keep the innocence in their children. Your boys will undoubtedly thank you later!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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