After my most recent breakdown – I know, there have been many, but please pay attention and try to keep up, people – Hubby and I agreed that we need to make Mommy a priority. So Hubby took Large and Medium camping with the Cub Scouts last weekend while I stayed home with Small. Small is pretty easy since he still takes two naps a day and he goes to bed at 7:00. I booked a sitter at the last minute and was able to go to lunch and do some shopping with a girlfriend, and on Saturday evening I worked on my scrapbooks and flipped through some magazines. Finally I settled on the couch with a glass of wine and logged in to Facebook. It was a little bit of heaven. For about five minutes.
And then I saw this:
|Waiting in ER for a couple stitches.|
I dialed Hubby’s cell phone and was greeted with a hushed, “I’m not supposed to be talking right now. We’re in the Emergency Room.”
Yeah, I got that.
Apparently Large was playing a game and ran into a picnic table. He had some loose baby teeth and a very fat lip, and he required four stitches.
It seems that Hubby didn’t want to bother me on my Mommy Night.
The next morning after they returned from camping and as we were all getting ready for church, one of the other Cub Scout dads rang our doorbell. He stopped by to reassure me that Large would be fine and mentioned to Hubby that if the same thing had happened in his family, his wife would have worried that he hadn’t been paying enough attention to the children.
You might recall that a few months ago, while I was out having drinks with girlfriends, I had to leave early because I was summoned to the Emergency Room. (I’m just sayin’.) But in all seriousness, it never occurred to me on either occasion that perhaps Daddy wasn’t paying close enough attention. These things happen and it just as easily could have happened on my watch.
A couple weeks ago my neighbor and I took our children to the park in our community. A major design flaw in the playground, however, is that it is located right on the river. The boys like to go down to the dock and look at the minnows. I had Small in the swing when the older boys asked if we could go down to the dock. I remember thinking I’m not ready to let them go down there by themselves, so I grabbed Small and we all headed down to the water. My neighbor and I stood on the ramp that leads from the land to the dock while the older kids were on the dock. They know that they can’t horse around down there and no one was doing anything unsafe, and yet, as we stood there chatting, we heard a splash and we both sprinted the 10 feet (at most) to the dock. Large had lost his footing and fallen into the water, but he had pulled himself out before we even got to him. It was one of those things that happened in a split second.
I am thankful that he is not afraid of the water and that he didn’t panic. His first words when he got out were “I’m sorry!” He knows that I worry about them falling in and he was afraid I was mad. I reassured him that I wasn’t angry; I was scared and I would be devastated if anything ever happened to him.
My point is that I am a conscientious parent, but it is difficult, at times, to strike that healthy balance between being too protective and being too lenient. I let Small go down the slide by himself at 14 months. I know there are people who would disagree with this permissiveness, but I make judgement calls every moment my boys are awake. I know, when Small is at the top of the “baby” slide, that I’ll be at the bottom to catch him. The joy and excitement on his face when I give him that little bit of freedom to explore is priceless. I don’t want my boys to grow up being afraid to take risks, and yet I want them to have a realistic notion of consequences. . . . it’s a delicate balance.
Of course I want to keep my children safe and the idea of harm coming to them makes my stomach churn. (In fact, I had a hard time sleeping after Large fell in the water because my mind kept reeling through all the things that could have happened.) From the moment they’re born we, as parents, are preparing them to become independent of us. I can’t wrap them in bubble wrap, though I’ve tried, for fear of scraped knees.
Hubby has also learned a valuable lesson: Mommy does NOT want to find out her baby is in the Emergency Room via Facebook. Do that again and I will poison your Gatorade.