Friday, May 21, 2010

I've Kept Them Alive So Far

Natalie got wedged between her bed and the sleeper sofa in her room this morning. At 7 years old, She probably could have wiggled herself free as I've seen her maneuver her way out of more entangled circumstances. But rather than do that, she allowed herself to remain "stuck" and at 6:15 in the morning started yelling at top volume to have someone come and remove her from between the furniture. I was in the bathtub and couldn't hear her. My older daughter, Nicole, was in the shower and couldn't hear her. David was in bed snoring and even the sound of shrieking elephants during mating season couldn't raise him. So she remained stuck. When I came out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later, David mumbled something about Natalie needing my help and then rolled back over to grab a few last minutes of sleep before his alarm went off. I went in Natalie's room and saw her stuck between the furniture, very calm, politely asking me to pull her out.

It reminded me of the time when Nicole was just starting the baby bucking phase, where they arch their backs and propel themselves forward. She'd never done it before and chose to do it for the first time while I had her in a car seat on top of the washing machine where I had placed her so that the rhythms of the washer would lull her to sleep. Didn't work. In fact, didn't work so badly that she was screaming and yelling at top volume and kicking frantically. So much for that damn baby book and its advice. I went to check her diaper to see if that was why she was crying. I unbuckled her from the car seat and at that moment she executed her new baby move - bucking. She arched up and had flipped out of the seat before I even knew what had happened. I was in shock really, amazed that she could even do that on her own and that she'd moved beyond the baby as immobile blob stage. With my baby airborne, there was only one place for her to land - the five inch gap between the washing machine and the dryer - and she was rapidly going there, head first. I reached out and grabbed for her, snagging a leg just before she entered the gap. She was crying, I was crying, but my tears were a mixture of thank God she's okay and DCF (department of children and families)would never have believed it was an accident if she'd ended up wedged between my appliances. As David always jokes when I worry about incompetent (embarrassing, scary) parenting moments, "They have extra long visiting hours in the jail on Mother's Day..."

When I was in elementary school, slightly more than waist high to my parents, at the perfect height for getting elbowed by them, I remember barely making it through the second grade without getting a concussion. I recall one particularly painful moment when grocery shopping and my mother accidentally dropped a six pack box of Sunmaid raisins on my head from the top shelf. The corner hit my forehead and I screamed so loudly that people three aisles over came to see what she had done to me. I was mad at her then. I feel for her now that I'm a parent myself. I'm not sure which is worse - how bad you feel about accidentally hurting your own kid, or how embarrassed you are when other parents see what you've done. Both suck, really.

The point of all this is, some woman was on a t.v. talk show yesterday ranting about helicopter parents who are too cautious when caring for their kids and smother them. She advocated taking your 8 year old to the park and dropping them off to play. She said that the real danger for kids was in parents who are overprotective. Overprotective? I can barely keep them alive in my own home let alone dropping them off at the park for someone else to inflict injury on them.

By the way, Natalie is fine. She even giggled when I got her out from between the furniture and said, "Now I know what it feels like to be meat in a sandwich."

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