Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nightmare

Here I am up before the rest of the household. I’ve just awoken from a nightmare. In it I had arranged to take A home on the bus with me as a special treat for the last day of school, but somehow I’m on the wrong bus. I realize we are going to a different neighborhood and when the bus lets us off I have no idea where she is. I start panicking and calling others and don’t know what to do. I get in someone else’s car and start to drive off to where the other bus might have dropped her off. As I’m backing up I almost backed over some other child. Now I’m in hysterics and somehow Hubby finds me and now he is going to drive us around to search for A. I call out of the window to one of my friends and say, “Have you seen A? I have lost her and I can’t find her!” We drive away, I’m crying, and then I wake up.

I also had a dream the other night that I lost G. I can’t remember the details as clearly, but in the dream he was a baby and there was some kind of misunderstanding about who had him as we were all going out to dinner, but I do remember the feeling of panic, “Where is my child!!” At the end of this nightmare I was realizing that we may have put him in the trunk of the car in a plastic bag and he might have suffocated. Yikes.

Now the kids are up and I hug them both tight thanking God for keeping them safe. I guess I’ve joined with mothers everywhere as I worry for the safety and well being of my children. I can only entrust them to the Lord and ask for His protection for them.

If you’ve seen me interact with my kids you know that I am by no means a ‘helicopter mom’ and don’t hover over my children to ensure they don’t get hurt. My kids are always getting bumps, bruises, and scars. One, they are both so adventurous and have been ‘climbers’ from the time they could crawl. I’m constantly removing them from the tops of tables and closets. Two, if they are not in danger of seriously hurting themselves I think experience is a good teacher. I warn them of dangers first and show them how to avoid it (for example, how to walk around the swing set without going in front of someone who is swinging), but when they refuse to listen to me I am not afraid to let them experience the consequences of their actions.

So the psychologist in me comes out and analyzes my dreams: I’m secretly afraid that one day my kids will be seriously hurt because I wasn’t more vigilant about their safety. When she was 2, A got a gash on her lip. I let her play with a little metal shopping cart (not a toy), when I knew it was possible for her to fall on it and get hurt. But she had played with it before without injury and she would have thrown a fit if I didn’t let her play with it. So I have to remember to be a tough mom when I need to refuse the kids do something they want. My jury is still out on whether or not they can jump on the bed.

When I hear of other people going through an accidental tragedy my first response is sympathy instead of judgment because I know it could have been me. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories on the news about a child dying after being accidentally left in the car all day. Possibly some parents in that situation are uncaring and simply forgot their child. But I always imagine some struggling mom, who’s been up all night and is sleep deprived, now off to work, has a million things on her mind, is on autopilot and forgets her silent sleepy child in the car seat. How horrible then for her as people say such mean things about her parenting like, ‘how could a loving parent forget about her child?’ when she was doing the best she could.

The one that I fear most of all is backing over my child with a car. A year or so ago I read a Reader’s Digest article about the increase in accidental deaths from backovers. The article stated that larger vehicles having more blind spots and pushed for legislation to make improvements in vehicle safety. The tragedy of these stories is that 70% of the time it is a family member that is in the driver’s seat. In the article they called it the ‘Bye-bye phenomenon,’ that Daddy or Grandma is leaving and they run out to say goodbye again. I could just see my kids running out to say good-bye to Hubby while I’m trying to get another load of laundry in the wash. That is one reason why we always wave at the window as he leaves. These news stories haunt me and it’s possible that some of these cases are because the driver is careless, but I just hate to hear other people reprimanding them over their driving skills. As if they or I have never been careless in a car?

When people lose a child the grief will be with them forever, no matter what the age. When it’s an accidental death of a young child it can cause even more pain because of the feeling that it could have been prevented. But to be the CAUSE of your own child’s death….It’s hard to imagine something worse.

Hearing about Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter’s death recently and how it was her teenaged brother at the wheel makes me so sad. This problem affects every walk of life and we need to take extra care when driving near children and always know their location as we are backing out. You can visit the website: www.KidsandCars.org to get more information and suggestions on how to prevent these accidents.

The song he wrote, ‘Cinderella’ has a new meaning for me. The years that I have these children with me are short. I know that one day they will be gone. Hopefully not by death, but surely by growing up. Only the Lord knows the span of our days and I need to enjoy the precious time that I have with them.

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