Thursday, July 19, 2007


Until recently, I thought that a parent's worst fear was that of something happening to their child. Then I discovered that there is one more level that should be included, that is exponentially worse than the general fear of something happening to your child.

The fear that something happens to your child, and you're the one who did it.

A couple of years ago, Hermione fell, hit her head, and suffered a concussion. All in all, it wasn't so bad, the effects only lasted about half a day and she was right as rain afterwards. However, it was extremely scary while we were going through this. She is a vivacious child, and very bright, and it scared me to death to think that all that might be taken away from her in the blink of an eye. I managed to stay pretty calm through the whole ordeal, because I needed to be calm for her sake as she was scared enough on her own. It was all over in a few hours, and I was so relieved that I never really suffered any backlash of fear and worry later.

This last week, however, was the most scared I've ever been, and I'm still not truly over it.

We were out running errands, shopping for an upcoming wedding, and were in the parking lot of one store, about to head to another. I THOUGHT both children were safely buckled and ready to go, and I began backing from my parking space. Harry spoke up and told me firmly - but not loudly - "Whoa" and I immediately stopped, somewhat annoyed. A lot of times, they protest if I start moving the car even an inch before they've fully buckled, but I thought I'd cured them of that. (I insist that they are buckled within a reasonable amount of time, but I don't insist that they're buckled before I start moving. In the yard or in a few feet of parking lot isn't going to matter.) I assumed it was his sister who was the miscreant, and I turned around to see what was going on, only to get more annoyed - her door was still open! They know that they are supposed to close their doors first thing and then get settled. Annoyance quickly turned to outright horror as I looked down further, and all I could see was Hermione's back on the ground, right next to the car.

Turns out that she had dropped a coin out of the car, and - WITHOUT ONE WORD - had hopped out to retrieve it. Only it had rolled UNDER THE CAR. And she was stretched out on her hands and knees, reaching way under the car to try and get it. And I almost backed OVER HER.

Needless to say, I lost it. I started screaming and sobbing and just generally became an absolute basketcase. She sat quietly in the car, not letting out a peep, because she knew she was in for it. Harry quietly patted my shoulder while I had my 5 minutes of insanity. I was shaking like a leaf, and was so paralyzed that even when I finally thought to put the car in park, it took forever to convince myself to let my foot off the brake pedal.

I cried off and on the rest of the day and stayed up way too late in the evening because I dreaded sleep, afraid of nightmares. I still can't quite shake the image of her lying there beside the car when I turned to look, but I'm not paralyzed anymore, just relieved through my shakiness.

We try and try, but sometimes there is just no overcoming circumstances or childish thoughtlessness. Harm will come to our children unless we keep them in a bubble their entire lives, but usually it comes from themselves or from outside sources. To think of harming our children, even by accident, is one of the most bloodcurdling things out there. Thankfully, nothing happened this time. But I now certainly have even more empathy than ever for parents who accidentally hurt their children. It should never happen in a perfect world, but unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world.

Go hug your kids today.

No comments: