A child doesn’t usually think about dangers. Life is full of too many wonderful and amazing things to see and do, that “danger” isn’t even on their radar. Especially when he/she is young. It takes experience to begin to recognize those things that are dangerous. But as a parent we don’t relish the idea of our child gaining those kinds of experiences…especially when it happens the hard way. That has a tendency to give us gray hairs.
A couple of days ago LittleMiss experienced something the hard way and gave me a good dozen gray hairs! LittleMiss has been a little goat almost from day one…and she’s smart as a whip…and has absolutely no fear. Put those together and it’s not uncommon to find that she’s emptied a toy bucket, pushed it up against the couch, chair or gate in order to climb on top of whatever. She takes things like the stairs as a challenge. That’s why I try hard not to let her out of my sight…and why we’ve invested in several sturdy gates.
But a gate is only useful if it’s used properly. It is so amazing how fast a determined 1 year old can climb a flight of stairs. And it’s frightening how fast that child can cartwheel back down! She looked so proud that she’d made it almost to the top. I will never forget that look on her face…nor the look of shock and terror as she started to tumble…nor how my heart stopped completely at the sound of her little body smacking the stairs as she fell all the way down…nor how my hands shook as I checked her over and held her tight as we both sobbed. She appeared to be fine physically (and I took her to her pediatrician to have her thoroughly checked..and it’s so good that babies are like Gumby), but it’s an experience that none of us will forget soon. Hopefully one we never ever ever have to go through again!
It’s things like this that remind us that our children are not immortal. It takes just a split second to change things so drastically. I will never look at a news report about a child drowning or getting run over by their parents or anything like that the same way. I’ll never snap judge the parents’ for not taking better care. Things can happen so fast! It only take once…once…to change things forever. I won’t say anymore “I can’t imagine how they feel”…I can and did imagine all night what it would have been like to loose my LittleMiss. My heart aches for those who have.
I’ve been told that I’m overprotective…that insisting on bike helmets and seat belts for even quick trips and having baby gates all over the house is obsessive and silly. That may be true…but it only takes once. I can’t protect my children from everything…and I don’t want to. But if I don’t do all I can to insure their safety, it’ll devastate me. It only takes once! Until they learn to recognize the dangers around them, it’s my job to keep them safe. I’m just hoping that the growing process isn’t going to include too many more lessons the hard way.