Today I almost had a heart attack. Like for real. Ok, not an actual heart attack, but my son did scare the sugar out of me.
It was one of those days when you think, “hey, I’ve got a handle on this parenthood thing…perhaps it’s getting easier” and then the universe sucker punches you back down a notch or two. We got up, had a lovely balanced breakfast – most of which managed to go from plate to mouth instead of ending up on the walls, floor and dog. Then we got ready, drove over the hill and did a little shopping. I weaved through my errands with precision – stopping first in the book/toy section to “borrow” some entertainment so that I could leisurely shop while Avery was entertained. I managed to wander through Target, remember what I came there for, and only purchase said items (an act of extreme restraint – how often do you go to Target, spend a disgusting amount of money on things you didn’t need only to realize you forgot what you actually came there for). We then hopped over to one of my favorite places in the Valley for lunch – Aroma Cafe. We ordered, got a table, read a book, and ate our respective lunches. He didn’t throw anything. He ate all his lunch. There was no crying, no fussing, and no trying to escape from the high chair. It was great. I even thought to myself, “I’m like one of those moms that looks like she has her shit together, the table isn’t even dirty! Damn, I’m good.”
And then I decided to get some coffee to go. I paid, and since we were nearing nap time (aka toddler turns into monster time) Avery wanted no part in being held. I tried unsuccessfully to hold him and sign the credit card receipt. I managed to scribble something on it, and then waited for my coffee. I put Avery down for ONE second to grab my coffee and move my bag to the other shoulder and he ran. Around the corner and…Out. Of. The. Restaurant. I took off after him and yelled desperately “someone grab that baby” as he turned, looked at me, giggled and ran toward the street. Without any time to think I threw down my coffee, purse and shoved, yes, I SHOVED (ok, knocked on his ass) a server out of the way and sprinted to grab Avery. I grabbed him and scooped him up – I was shaking and covered in hot coffee (because the server was carrying not one, not two, but 4 cups of fancy lattes to a table – all of which were shattered on the floor and now covering he and I). Avery burst into a fit of giggles. I was shaking and on the verge of tears. I looked around embarrassed at the disaster I left in my wake. I clumsily apologized to the server and asked if he was ok. One nice lady (obviously sensing my horror) kindly reassured me that I did the right thing while the other diners stared (like open mouth stared) and offered those awkward half smiles with the subtext of (holy crap that was bad, good luck with life lady). I must have looked INSANE. I went back inside, got another cup of coffee (which obviously I still needed). And despite Avery’s protesting, clutched him in my arms as we walked back to the car.
As I sat in the car, still shaking, all I could think was how unsafe this world is. How fragile life is. How much our kids NEED us to keep them safe. And how fast and how easily a beautifully boring, simple day can turn into a nightmare. I was not distracted. I wasn’t on my phone. I was watching him. I was with him. I was paying attention. And he still ran, and I went after him the second he ran, but then he ran faster. It could have been horrible. It could have been the worst day of my life. It could have been worse than the worst day. It wasn’t, and I thank God it wasn’t. But it was a sobering lesson that this time in our children’s lives – when the world is exciting and fun, where cars are the best thing ever and there is no fear, no hesitation, no knowledge of danger and consequence – is fragile, and fast and REQUIRES super-human attention.
I cut grapes into like 8 pieces. I make sure windows are NEVER open. I don’t let him stand on the couch. I follow him on the playground making sure he doesn’t fall off the slide or down a ladder. But today, when I set him down at my side to pick up my purse and coffee, I could have lost him. Today was a reminder that even though he sometimes acts like a little human, he is still my baby, and needs me just as much as a newborn. He needs me to protect him, to watch over him, to ALWAYS be there, to ALWAYS be ON. I guess I’ve gotta up my game and start doing some sprints with my daily 5k jog to get faster. And, I guess I’ll be looking on Amazon for some great books to teach about danger and safety, and perhaps re-think my current stance on the kid leash contraptions…cause I have a runner.