"From what?" you ask? Well....anything and everything. We always want to protect them from physical and mental harm. Duh. Sometimes things are obvious, like teaching them about stranger-danger and making sure they are never out of your sight while you are shopping lest some wacko is lurking nearby. But other things are less obvious when we are actually doing them, but they are still some form of protection.
When they are babies we protect them from diaper rash by changing dirty diapers, and from yucky spitups by donning them with bibs. Teething becomes bearable for everyone if we can protect them from the pain of it all with some sort of gel housed in a nice, neat little tube. (My mom admits she swabbed some toxic alcoholic beverage on my gums when I was teething. I thing she was protecting her sanity more than my own pain.) Protection from scratches on their little faces by clipping the smallest fingernails in the world with the smallest fingernail clippers ever designed by man. Protection from the bars on the crib with a bumper pad, from the dangers of the kitchen with cupboard locks, and from trying to electrocute Barbie by covering the electrical outlet with a plastic thingy-ma-bob. We also try to protect them from injury by limiting the exposure to climbing apparatuses, although more harm was done in my house from stacking chairs on toy boxes than any tree in the front yard.
But there are some things you can't protect them from. They are just going to happen.
As they enter grade school we try to protect their fragile feelings from classroom bullies and mean girls who whisper and giggle at their new glasses. We pull them under our protective wing and kiss their foreheads when they cry about how horrible their day was when Bobby chased Suzy instead of her. Or how they lost the 4-square game. Or how they got picked last for kick ball.
Or when they are 18 and they fall HARD in love. And say those special 3 words for the very first time ever.
And you just pray that they aren't too old to pull them under your protective wing and kiss their forehead if that heart does indeed experience that first painful disappointment.
But even more, you hope you don't have to.