Monday, September 10, 2007

A hard lesson I didn't have to learn

Saturday we visited some friends to watch football. It was raining hard when we arrived and we shuffled the kids inside to avoid getting wet, without even glancing at their backyard swimming pool (actually we were too busy trying to get a look at the playground-quality outdoor gym they'd just built).

These friends have twins: a boy and girl who are Mickey's age (almost 4). As soon as we hit the door the expected chaos ensued and the toys came out, with Alex trying to keep up as best he could. The four adults settled down to watch the game and yell at the TV.

Pretty soon, I said to Pete "where's Alex?"

"I don't know..."

I calmly got up and went to kitchen area near the back door where we'd entered the house, and panic rushed over me.

The door was unlocked.

Almost instantly I laid my eyes on Alex, who was wandering about in an adjacent room. He hadn't yet been attracted back to the door, the door he could have easily opened and stepped out, putting him about ten feet from the edge of the pool.

The possibilities didn't register with me at that moment. I noticed an open child-lock on the door and engaged it, and bolted the door, too.

The rest of the day was uneventful. The kids played and football continued.

Then the magnitude of what could have happened started building up, and I nearly got upset just sitting there watching football. I thought about all the times I'd heard about pool accidents with toddlers, and thought to myself what a negligent parent that child must have had. Surely they must have been white trash or drunk or abusive. And here Pete and I sat...none of those things, having made the same mistake with our own children that one of those parents might have made. Only we were lucky. We were proceeding along with our day as planned, instead of asking ourselves how we could have been so stupid.

(big sigh). I don't like to get dramatic for drama's sake. It's not my nature. But since I had kids I think about things a whole different way. I cherish every minute I have with these boys, in spite of my sometimes stressful days. If anything, this non-incident on Saturday proved to me that even though I try to do everything right for them, sometimes I fail. And that's a scary thing to think about...

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