Yesterday morning, T headed off to the gym by himself, and a glorious morning stretched out in front of me and the girls. They dressed themselves and we all ate breakfast, and then they piled into the double stroller so that we could spend the morning walking around doing errands, and hitting various parks along the way. The idea was that we'd spend a brief time at each park we passed, in between doing our necessary errands, with the plan of ultimately hitting a park that has a massive treehouse and slide that the girls love. It's a bit far from our house, so we had a something of a journey ahead of us.
We headed toward our usual park on the way, stopping for a brief bit. Miss M had a bit of a scary moment at the top of a climbing tower, when he sneaker somehow fell off, and she needed to climb down with one slippery sock on. It's a giant ball constructed of ropes all woven together, sort of like a 3D soccer ball. She was hanging for a moment from the top of the ball, with nothing but air beneath her, unable to regain her footing due to the slippery sock. It's about 15 feet down from the top. I was terrified. But, she quickly regained her footing, and swung down the rest of the way like a monkey, oblivious to my pleading that she take is slowly and carefully and NOT let go with her feet while she swung only by her hands.
I really struggle with moments like this. I would prefer that Miss M simply not go on that piece of playground equipment. But, I want the girls to grow up trusting themselves, believing that they can do it, and going for it, so I let them climb. By the same token, I am terrified to let them fall. I want them to grow and thrive. I don't want to stunt their intellectual or physical growth by my fears. It is so hard to find that balance.
The first few times she climbed on that piece of equipment, she was fearful and hesitant. Now, she climbs to the top without looking back. I am proud of how strong she is, how bold. It is a pleasure to see her thrive. I've had to let go of my fears, let her push the boundaries of my comfort zone, in order to grow herself. That is really, really hard, because it always involves risk, and I'm never sure where that line should be.
A bit later, we headed off to do more errands. We bought art supplies and some groceries, did a bit of people watching, walked through another park. There was a little playground in the park, as we headed on our way from that last errant to another, toward the park with the treehouse. It's a little playground we never go to, not even a very good one, really. And it had something that so many of the parks here have, which I loathe: a cement surface under the playground equipment.
Miss M paused to change her shoes (she was wearing flats, and I always require sneakers at the playground, lest they slip and fall). So careful, so prudent. . .I want to let them play, but as safely as I can.
And normally, I don't let them play where there are cement surfaces below the playground equipment. I am too afraid they might get hurt.
But I was trying, am trying, to find that balance between safety and smothering. . .
SB was up on the highest part of the playground equipment, where there was a slide that went down. It was about 3.5 feet or so off the ground. Miss M was on the ground, climbing on the equipment. I was RIGHT THERE near SB, when Miss M said something to me, and I turned, just for a second.
And when I turned around, it was to see the terrifying sight of my two year old tumbling from the top of the slide, down, down, down, headfirst, onto the cement surface below. She landed with a horrible thud, and thankfully, mercifully, began screaming and sobbing and carrying on. It was truly awful.
And we were so far from our house, and not one single person, of the dozens milling around in the park right when it happened, stopped or came over or asked if she was okay, asked if they could help. She was crying that her head hurt and wouldn't let me put her down and we were so.far.from.our.house.
I called T repeatedly on the phone, knowing that he would be home from the gym. Home phone, cell phone, over and over and over again. Text messages and emails and calls and. . .nothing. No answer. Calling an ambulance isn't an option here. They never arrive. There are taxis, but they are tiny. I was about to abandon our giant double stroller at a nearby church, when finally, he answered. He'd been in the shower. He came right away to pick us up, and drove us straight to the emergency room.
It all turned fine, in the end. She was sleepy in the car, which made me think "serious head injury," but it turned out it was just close to nap time. She was lively in the hospital and passed the neurological exam with flying colors. Because she'd fallen from such a height, they did a CT scan, and it showed that everything looked fine. She even got a bit of a nap in the pediatric ER. It's really such a miracle, and I am so thankful that she is okay. I'm amazing to me that a little person could fall so far and really be okay, but she's been her usual exuberant self all day.
My thoughts and prayers have been with Pam, whose 14 year old stepson just suffered a head injury while skateboarding. It sounds like he will ultimately be okay, but he wasn't nearly as fortunate as SB (14 year old boys not being as pliant as 2 year olds), and he has a period of recovery ahead of him. As I sat there in the hospital awaiting test results, while SB napped and Miss M slept in the car with T abiding with her, I could think of nothing else but the ridiculousness of two families doing everything they could. . .and yet so unable to prevent accidents, unable to prevent kids from being kids. You want to wrap them in bubble wrap and a helmet and keep them close forever.
But you can't. And sometimes bad things happen. And I don't know what to do with that.