Thursday, May 15, 2014

Big Falls & Big Guilt


You can’t be everywhere all at once. As we scurry from task to task, checking off the to-do lists that comprise our waking hours, it’s a fact we’re all well acquainted with.

And, it’s no more apparent than when you’re looking after a kid.

So common they built a campaign condoning it — just like smoking. 
In one moment you’re supposed to be preparing their meal while simultaneously keeping an eye on the kid. But, like most human beings, children don’t want to sit and watch their meal being made for them so, they meander to parts populated by toys, remote controls, electrical outlets and permanent markers.

But the kid has got to eat. So you divide your time into small increments between preparing the meal and making sure the kid doesn’t get into trouble.

It’s unavoidable that part of looking after a kid means leaving them in the room alone for at least a moment or two.

All of which is to say, my son fell off of a high chair and landed hard on the ground while my wife and I were distractedly trying to take care of him.

He was on the other side of the counter from me in our kitchen and out of Mrs. Blackwell’s sights as she helped tidy the family room. In the midst of our work, he found a seam — a crack in our surveillance if you prefer — through which neither of us could see him, climbed a chair, slipped and fell. Hard.

He landed with a big thud, with nothing but hardwood to break his fall. Fortunately all he had to show for this incident was a couple of bruises, one on his cheek and another on his bottom lip.

As for Mrs. Blackwell and I, well, we did what most parents do when their kid gets hurt We slipped into an immediate state of self loathing and self flagellation.

What kind of parents could be so thoughtless? How could we have let him get up on this chair without noticing? Just how deep does our respective vein of irresponsibility and selfishness run?

Fortunately, it took about ten minutes and one smiling little boy to answer all these questions by reminding us, sometimes, accidents just happen. We can’t be there for every moment — even when we’re trying to be there for every moment.

As he grows, he’s going to fall plenty when we’re not there. All a parent can do is what you frequently do anyways — surrender any notions of control, be there as much as you should be and hope for the best. 

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