The Split Second

I don’t know about where you live, but lately around here there seems to have been an increase in the number of child-related tragedies.

I won’t rehash them one by one.  They were depressing enough the first time around. Suffice it to say that some terrible, strange accidents have happened to some small children around the state.

Accidents aren’t really what this post is about, though.  What got me thinking was looking at and listening to some of the comments that people make about these tragic accidents.  Without fail, the parenting abilities of the parents involved with these accidents are always called into questions.  Sometimes people are downright cruel, saying that some people shouldn’t have children and that how idiots should be sterilized so they can’t reproduce.  You hear such mature, helpful advice as “hang them” and “arrest them for neglect.”

I have no doubt that some of the horrible things that happen to children are the result of bad parenting.  But then, these things aren’t really accidents, are they? What about the horrible things that happen that really are accidents? We are so quick to judge, so quick to pass sentence and shake our heads at these poor, foolish parents.

Haven’t we all been that foolish parent?

Nobody wants to admit it, but we have all had our less-than-stellar parenting moments.  The difference between me and the woman whose son died in a tragic accident is little more than pure luck.

Children are fast, and I don’t think any human on Earth can honestly say they are prepared for every possible danger scenario in the life of their child.  We try.  God knows we do.  We baby-proof and use car seats and door latches and we hover and wring our hands.  But sometimes stuff still happens, doesn’t it?

I know as the mother of two I’ve had some close calls.  One that stands out in my mind is the time my then two-year-old son found the switch that operated the automatic door we had so my sister could go in and out in her wheelchair.  The house was baby-proof.  But I noticed I didn’t hear my son, and when I went in search of him, I found him standing on the back porch looking through the door which had closed just as easily as it had opened.  He was so shocked that he had just stood there, and in reality, no more than a minute could have gone by, but what could have happened? What if, instead of stopping and looking back through the door, he had kept on trucking and went out to the road? Or down in the woods? Or, or, or, if, if, if.  I was lucky.  I grabbed him and mentally calculated the number of years that had been shaved off of my life, but that was it.  We were fine.

Another time, we were in DC seeing the sights.  We got on the elevator to go down to the Metro.  We were packed on there, and somehow I got shuffled behind my sister’s wheelchair.  My son was in front of her chair.  The door opened, and he stepped off.  For some reason, everyone else just sort of stood there.  The door started to slide shut, with me inside and my four-year-old son standing on the platform by himself.  I literally climbed over the back of my sister’s chair and hit the “door open” button.  Everyone shuffled off then, and I joined my child on the platform.  Yet another year or two off of the span of my life.  It could have gone down very differently, and been much worse.  Or, or, or, if, if, if.

So, what about you? Have you had those life-shortening, sphincter-tightening moments of parenthood? I know you have.  We all have. Go ahead, tell me about it.

I won’t judge.

 

 

 

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