I’m not sure about the rest of you, but parenthood seems to have this inexplicable effect on both my rational and irrational fears.
My son of course, as the oldest, was the test subject. Burdened now by what I refer to as the aftermath of Type A mommy, he is cautious and clean beyond normalcy. Sending him to pick-up his room at night, never leaves me wondering what I will find when he proclaims completion. In his world everything has a place and must be returned there.
Park paranoia is yet another experiment he had to live through. Risk taking, is not his thing — certainty and stability make more sense. So you can just about imagine how he navigates his way around a play structure at an area park.
Of course, his sister is completely opposite on each of these accounts. She is my argument that God has a sense of humor.
I first proclaimed this to my husband when our son was two. Moving him from a crib to a big bed on his second birthday, went way too smoothly. I still remember his first night in his big bed. Dutifully he climbed into his bed, pulled the covers up to his shoulders and stated ‘Night, night.’ That was it.
Looking shocked at one another, I quickly realized what we were up against.
“God has a sick sense of humor,” I told my husband. “He is setting us up, because the next one will not be this easy.”
Words to live by.
While our daughter transitioned to a big bed with ease as well, that is pretty much where the similarity between our first and second, begins and ends.
Aggressive, fearless, risk taker are the adjectives which best fit Maddy. For her play structures are accidents waiting to happen. And with a brother three years her senior, keeping her on the smaller structure offered at area parks is short lived.
Since I recognize my shortcomings from the first time around, I often find myself trying to loosen up a little with Maddy. The problem of course is that she does not proceed with caution or apprehension, which can quickly become a recipe for disaster at a neighborhood park.
With summer like weather still in the air, one morning the three of us recently visited a local park. It was a week day, so there was promise that the park would be pretty isolated (making me less nervous of my little one being knocked over).
When we arrived, a father was busy pushing his two daughters Elise, 4, and Bella, 3, simultaneously on the swings. Eventually, the children began to play together and the father of the two girls and I circled the perimeter of where the children were — sort of parental safety nets.
While we had made a point for the children to learn each other’s names, we neglected to do the same. Well, that is until he (Art) saved my daughter from a 12-foot free fall.
An Angel named Art, is how I now refer to the stranger who stepped up and saved me from realizing one of my biggest fears as a parent.
Following about 45 minutes of injury free play, my daughter decided to test her luck and climb past the slide I had taken her to a dozen times that morning. As she did this, I was at the base of the structure. With my instinct telling me to run, logic told me not to. If I ran toward her, she would run straight off the top of the structure.
As I spoke calmly to her and began making the climb toward her, I caught Art out of the corner of my eye. He had spotted my dilemma and began making his way to the base of the slide, just in case. As he did this, my daughter reached the top platform, turned to look at me with a sense of accomplishment and plopped on her bottom, to head down the slide.
Misjudging her position, when she plopped her bottom went past the opening which was behind her and she began to free fall 12 feet to the ground, backwards and folded in half.
In a split second, Art’s stroll became a run and amazingly he held out his arms and caught my daughter, like a receiver connecting with a football.
Frightened and with a bump on her head she was hysterical — and so was I.
I managed to find the words ‘Thank you’ and asked the man his name. This scene haunted me for the rest of the day. Had it not been for ‘Art’ and his selfless act, our day, not to mention lives, could have changed drastically.
Reflecting back on that day, I’m now okay with my overbearing parenting style. Sure, it may make things tough on my children. Perhaps when they become teens or young adults, they’ll let me know how I ‘ruined their lives,’ by being such a caring (and perhaps somewhat paranoid) mom.
Now, looking back I can honestly say … I’m okay with that.
Most importantly, I thank God (and Art) … that on a day when I was seeking isolation at a neighborhood park with my children — something greater than all of us placed an angel named Art in just the right place.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.