I was watching my 11-year-old's basketball game over the weekend when one of the boys on the opposite team tripped on the court and fell smack on his face. He lay on the ground crying, with his hand over his eye for a good three or four minutes. I nervously looked on as the coach and ref ran over to assess the situation. Meanwhile, the boy's parents remained firmly seated and silently observed the proceedings from across the gym.
Why weren't they running over to check on their son?
Eventually, the boy got up and seemed fine. And later, when my own son got in the car, I asked him about it. "Did you think it was weird when that kid fell on his face and his parents never came over to see if he was OK?" I asked.
"YES!" my son replied, excitedly relieved. "If you ever did that to me I would kill you."
Which is exactly what I thought he would say.
"I saw it happen like it was slow motion," she posted on Facebook, where she later recapped the event. "I saw his eyes widen and then squint from the pain—he looked around trying to focus. I knew he was looking for me. My feet couldn't move fast enough. As soon as we connected, I got down on one knee. I wrapped my arms around him as he cried into my shoulder. A voice came from behind me—'You need to stop babying that kid.'"
Seriously?! There is no worse fear for a parent than watching your child get hurt from afar, and there's nothing scarier for a kid then being in pain and not having your mom or dad there to comfort you. But instead of freaking out on the hater, Primak Sullivan just wiped her son's tears and then sent him back to join his team once she knew that he was OK.
But later, she took to Facebook to share her feelings about the way we, as a society, are raising our sons. "This notion that boys can never hurt, that they can never feel, is so damaging to them long term," she wrote. "The belief that any signs or gestures of affection will somehow decrease their manhood—this pressure to always 'man up.' They're taught that sadness is weakness, that talking about their fears or short comings makes them less than. They don't mourn properly. The [sic] struggle to grieve. They're afraid to cry. It all spills into the way they husband and father and I hate it."
She's so right. No one should tell anyone else how to parent or how much to show love for their child. And the message about showing up for our sons and encouraging them to show emotions—no matter who's watching—is totally on point.
"Love is a verb," she explains. "It is something you do. It is not the same as babying, coddling or spoiling. It is something my son deserves. I will always love him when he is hurting and my prayer for him is that he is always open to receiving love so he can love in return and keep that cycle going."