Monday, 11 November 2013

Hard Thanks

Things have been hard around here, and I find myself sitting at my desk chair, not quite knowing where to start with it all. There's one question that keeps going around and around in my mind, and that's when do you know for sure that your child is going to need ..more...than the other kids their age? At what point do you accept that you're going to spend their whole school career having 'special meetings' with their teachers?  

It's one thing to wonder, and another thing to know. At some point you look at them and say 'okay, this isn't normal anymore'. I think I've just reached this point with my dear little boy, and it's hurting. Please don't tell me everything is going to be okay, because either I will want to scratch your eyes out or I will cry, and I hate crying, and I bet you would hate having your eyes scratched out too.

I don't really have the words to write about any of that properly yet, so how about I just tell you a story instead; something that  happened last week. This is where it happened: 

You should all move here. It's super pretty. Not. 

Pink, Blue and I were walking to the park. Not a great morning- I can't remember why, but I'd lay money on someone refusing to get dressed and someone else feeling aggrieved about the colour of their toothbrush, probably. We'd finally made it out the door, on time, (miraculously) and were scurrying along when Pink fell over. She started screeching, and I turned to comfort her. As I knelt next to her, she screamed my pony ball, my pony ball and I realised that she wasn't yelling because she was hurt, she was yelling because the off-brand not-quite-my-little-pony ball she had been carrying was rolling towards the road. 

I turned around to see the ball and instead I saw Blue chasing it, ready to dive headfirst into four busy lanes of traffic. 

This is maybe the first time that I have really felt time freeze, as I saw him running towards that road and I sprinted - far faster than I knew I could - to stop him. Later I looked back and saw that my handbag had been thrown onto the pavement and was sitting there upside down, the DSLR inside somehow unbroken. I have no memory of sloughing it off but I must have, same as I must have shoved Pink back to the ground to stop her following me.  
I caught him, just.   This left the ball in the middle of the road, and Blue screaming the pony ball, mummy, let me go, I need to get the pony ball while I screamed stop, get back, get back!   He tried to wrest himself free of my grip and throw himself back towards the hurtling traffic. 

I had no idea what to do. In the end, after checking for a space in the cars, ran into the road to get the pony ball, accompanied by the wailing of children who aren't worried about my safety but worried I might not be quick enough to save their toy.  Once I had it back, they were nearly calm enough to listen to me yell at them. (Normally, I try not to yell, but if they run on the road I am going to yell at them as loudly as I can manage. Yelling is scary and evil, etc, but if they run on the road, I want them to be terrified. I want them to associate that action with every sort of fear and bad emotion they can muster, because however much it is it will never be enough). 

If the ball gets squished, we will get a new ball, I yelled.  If Blue gets squished, we cannot get a new Blue. Pink kept on crying. We can't get a new pony ball! She wailed. There was only one pony ball at the shop! Was there? I have no idea. How can she even be thinking about the pony ball? Her brother nearly got run over. But he was crying too. The pony ball nearly got squiiiiiished!, he said again, and couldn't quite believe I wasn't really entering into his sadness. They cried and cried. I cried and cried too, not just because of the near miss but because he would clearly do it again, given the chance.

They have no idea how fragile their little bodies are; no idea how much more precious they are than a plastic ball. They chase after the wrong things, even when it could destroy them. Sort of reminds me of someone else I know.

The whole thing was horrible. A man came out of a cafe and asked me if I was okay, and I said yes but this was a lie. By the time I got to the park I was a mess, and I keep thinking about what nearly happened and how terrifying it was. Yet in the middle of everything that is hard right now, this was a sharp reminder that, in an instant, everything could change. In a way, it reminds me just how idyllic everything is right now, at least on paper, even when it doesn't quite feel that way. 

In an instant, everything could change. But that day, they didn't. And I'm thankful. I am thankful for red traffic lights that held the cars just feet away from the part of the road my boy was trying to run onto. And I'm thankful for the newly-widened pavement that gave me extra inches to grab the hood of his jacket and tackle him to the ground. Most of all, of course, I'm thankful for these two precious, complicated, difficult, awful, wonderful kids that I still - after four years - get to call mine. 


  1. Oh man...this brought tears to my eyes and a heaving almost-sob to my chest just to read about! It's just... terrifying, to think about how quickly things could change. So glad that you were able to stop Blue in time. I would have yelled my head off in that situation too!!

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  3. Thank god you got there. And I think yelling s fine. Love ya.

  4. I'm so glad you got to him in time - mother adrenaline and God!!!

    that day when Connor ran into the street I swear my heart stopped. I CRIED AND CRIED afterwards.

    ready to talk more when you're ready to write about the other hard thing that shall remain nameless for now.


  5. Yes. Yell. Yell a lot and bare your fangs like a mama bear. Absolutely appropriate.

    Did I ever tell you about the time the 2 year-old in the building across from me somehow slid out of his apartment unnoticed and, crying for his dad who had just left for work, started toddling down the parking lot toward the street - a street that is one short block from the onramp to a 6-lane highway? And no one noticed and he toddled some more and finally I was like, %$#@!!!!" and sprinting downstairs and trying to stop this terrified child without terrifying him even more and wondering how I could pick him up and carry him to the management office without scarring him for life or getting myself arrested when - miracle! - his father pulled back into the parking lot and swooped him up. I saw that look on his father's face - probably the one you were wearing.

    Very glad he is okay, and you are okay. And the pony ball, too, for that matter.


  6. Yup - I have been in the same place - probably every parent has had this moment. They are the ones that wake you in the middle of the night thinking about what could have happened. Got to say that it was after my child ran into the road that I hit my child for the first and only time. Not proud of it but just absolutely wanted her to remember this event as a huge thing. And when I say hit - it was a smack on the bottom not anything more. But still not a happy experience for either of us. I know that you say that you think that Blue would do it again but I am hoping that they will both remember the time you ran into the road and everyone was crying - so that they won't do it again. My kids remember every time that I have cried in front of them - it is not a normal event so whatever triggers it becomes huge in their minds. Hoping that yours have the same reaction to your crying.

  7. God my heart stopped reading that story. Wicked flashbacks.

    the thing you started to say at the beginning? Reminds me of things I read in Far From The Tree by Andrew Soloman. If you haven't read it, now might be a good time.


  8. My kids are awful, too. I think I mean "awe-ful." It's awe where they take you with your heart in tow.

  9. I cried reading this, because I know. About what you wrote before the aerial shot of the scene of your terror and after it. And both are so hard. I would never say that it will all be okay, because what does that even mean anymore? What version of okay would I even be talking about? So instead I'll say that when things are hard, cheese fries make it better. I know this for a fact. For truly serious cases, I recommend chili cheese fries, accompanied by a chocolate shake.

  10. We've had to accept that same truth with our oldest and it's awful and terrifying and overwhelming and exhausting all rolled into one. I feel for you.

  11. Your story made my blood run cold--I've had a similar experience and spent many a night lying in bed freaking out about how it could all have gone so much more wrong. I'm so glad all three of you are ok.

  12. My daughter had a "phase" (about 3years) where she would run towards moving cars in the street or parking lot and I would FREAK OUT. A few times I didn't notice she had run off (groceries, etc) and she never once got near a car. It was only if I was watching that she would get close. That's not your situation, but I understand that pure, total panic!

  13. How awful, awful, awful. My kids have also run, simultaneously, into the road. I was not gentle in catching them.

  14. about that first bit that you're not ready to write about...I understand. No judgement here.

  15. Better that you make an impression on them than a car. This is why yelling as the main parenting technique is a very bad idea. Okay, there are other reasons, but let me tell you, when you YELL, it needs to be a huge shock. It needs to make an indelible impression. A big whew that everyone (and the pony ball) is okay.

  16. Oh, so scary, Claudia! In the midst of my fretting about school, this story is a reminder that I have so MUCH to be thankful for and so much I take for granted. I'll be praying for you, Jay, Pink, and Blue as you begin to think about all those possible upcoming school meetings you mentioned.


Over to you!