Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Nightmare

I lightly alluded to the nightmare that I had a few nights ago, in last night's post-about-nothing. It was a very disturbing dream and I quite literally had to get out of bed (and turn off a crying doll!) to shake myself out of it. Even that did not work. My thoughts were consumed.

Before I went to bed that night, I had read this article "The Day I Left My Son in the Car". You really should read that article to fully understand the depth of my thoughts before I went to sleep that night.

In a nutshell, this is written by a mom that does everything humanly possible to protect  her children but she made one spur-of-the-moment decision that changed her life. She left her son in the car (on a 50 degree (Fahrenheit) day, with windows cracked open a bit; child locks engaged; doors locked) because after insisting that he wanted to come along with her on this five minute errand (before they had to run and catch a flight within the hour), he resisted going into the store with her when she got there. Tantrum in the store verses the decision to run in and out of the store and be quickly on their way again.

Her son was fine, but what happened is that a stranger videotaped the entire incident, then followed this mom home and then called the police to report the mother for leaving her child in a car.

The author of this article went to great lengths to describe all sides of the entire situation, the events that followed and the legal ramifications and arguments that ensued.

I am not acting as judge and jury here. What resonated with me after reading this, was the fact that what caregiver does not make a mistake? Ever? As a parent, I was a (very) far cry from perfect. As a daycare provider, I am 90% better than I was as a parent, but I am not perfect.

Just yesterday, I took a calculated risk by mowing the lawn while my two daycare charges were sound asleep in the house, the doors were locked and my 16 year old was downstairs in-case-of-emergency. Anything could have happened during the twenty minutes that I stepped out of the house.

Every day, I must go to the bathroom at some point during my daycare day. I always make sure that all-is-well and everyone is safe and occupied before I leave the room. I leave the bathroom door ajar so that I can hear all that is going on (which often attracts little people to come and investigate this door that is open, just a crack - so I really do know where they are). But honestly? Anything could happen when my back is turned.

Anything could happen when my back is not turned as well. And it does. Kids trip, fall, bump into each other and things and are generally an accident-in-progress at different ages and stages of their development. I have gone to catch a child who is falling and accidentally grazed them with my fingernail instead. Bumps, bruises, scratches and accidents are a part of growing up. Ninety nine (point nine, nine) percent of the time it is just minor stuff. All it takes is 'once' and all else is forgotten.

I have babysat for a few 'bubble-wrapped' children. They are the hardest children to keep safe, because their parents have protected them from the natural consequences of life because they always catch the child before they fall. These children are fearless because they trust that someone else will keep them safe.

These very same parents are the ones that worry me the most. If they watched every move that I made during the day, I could not appease their protective nature. Daycare = Children (plural). I do not have eyes and ears on one child at all times. Peripheral vision sees all (a lot); knows all (most); and hears all (almost everything). But I don't have my eyes, ears and arms out for one child at all times.

I take calculated risks all day, every day.

I even feel like I am taking a chance whenever I take my kids out for a walk. I have two in the stroller and anyone walking must hold onto the stroller. That is the rule. It is my unwavering rule. I go on and on and on about safety and moving cars, watching for traffic, walking on the 'grassy side of the sidewalk' (verses the side closest to moving traffic).

I have zero tolerance for any safety rule that is broken.

I let the kids take calculated risks when I know that they are safe. Learning to climb and falling a small distance, onto a soft surface is a good teacher, in my books.

On top of keeping my borrowed children safe, I am also teaching them manners, fair play, sharing, caring and just plain old good citizenship. At least I try. In the minutes, hours and days throughout the week I have moments when I lose my temper. On good days and on bad days. My angry voice comes out and it doesn't sound good.

If someone caught me on videotape during one of those bad moments?? It is honestly my worst nightmare. And that ... was the nightmare that I had the other night.

I was over-the-top-stressed-out (in my dream) and I had school-aged children that were defying my every word. (In my dream), I sent one of those school kids to bed for a nap and the other snuck out the door (in my dream) and decided that she wasn't sick after all and would return to school. And (in my dream), the mother of these children showed up on the doorstep with her daughter in tow, hurling accusations. On top of this (in my dream), the mother of my bubble-wrapped-child dropped off her extremely ill son after his doctor's appointment and went to work. I had a sick child (in my dream) on top of this defiance and suddenly, my bubble-wrapped-child's mother was accusing and yelling at me. I stood there (in my dream), feeling defenseless and defeated.

I woke up and my heart was racing. The grains of truth (my imperfections and current-day-parents' expectations) sifted to the top of my consciousness and I wondered if I was truly up to this job.

I am so very far from perfect, that I worry. If someone was a fly on my wall during the day, each and every day, day after day ... what would they think? Perhaps that 'fly' would understand and see 99.99% of the time, I do the right things under the right circumstances. But what if they videotaped one isolated incident? If someone judged you by your actions .01% of the time, what would the jury think?

Living life is risky business. Every day. All of the time. We have no idea what is lurking around the next corner. Thank goodness.

We can't live in fear of that .01% of the time. We must live out loud. We must take chances and learn that sometimes, we will fall. When we do fall, we must learn to get back up, brush ourselves off and move onwards, taking that lesson with us. It doesn't hurt to think of that 'fly on the wall', to help us guide our actions in a way that we are not ashamed of. But we cannot live in fear of five minutes of 'video' to change the course of our lives.

It only takes a fraction of a second to change the course of a life. We cannot live in fractions. We can only live fully and completely. Wake up from the nightmare, girl! Open your eyes!! Life the day with your eyes wide open, do your best and when you fail? Get up and try, try again.

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