Again, the spelling for that Best Parent Ever plaque is R…A…C..

A couple of weeks ago, the four of us had just gotten home from the grocery store, and L and I were hefting the bags up the lawn into the house while the kids trailed behind us in the grass. Entering and exiting the house with Rosie is an activity that occurs on either side of the velocity spectrum, never in the middle. Sometimes it’s an epic 10-minute journey filled with smelling the roses, smooshing the bugs, pointing at airplanes and other classic examples of Lollygagging Around, set to the ever present soundtrack of my heavy cajoling and wheedling. (I try for a sing-songy cheerful tone, but things tend to descend into more of a barking tone RATHER quickly, it seems.) And other times she hurtles towards the car like a Weeble Wobble shot out of a cannon, while I race behind her in a most unflattering and breathless manner. The jury is out on which approach I prefer less.

On this particular afternoon her car to house speedometer was set to Glacier, and after walking (slash standing) next to her for five or so minutes through the 20 feet of the lawn with four grocery bags slicing my wrists in half and finally arriving at the steps, I just did not have it in me to coax her up the three steps and on to the front porch. Seeing that she was engrossed in the bowl of rocks on the stoop, I decided just to leave her there while I lugged the food inside to the refrigerator. I wouldn’t usually have considered this an option, except that Noah “The Enforcer” was out there, too, and they have been known to play on the steps from time to time, with me just inside the house. And L was in the house, sure to come back out before I’d even made it to the kitchen. And if not, I was only going to be gone for 30 seconds, tops.

(That uncomfortable sensation you’re feeling? That’s OMINOUS FOREBODING.)

I met L in the kitchen, unloading groceries, and he asked me a question. I don’t have the vaguest notion what it was now – did I remember the bag with the ice cream? Where should he put the Fritos? Do these pants make my butt look big? I HAVE NO IDEA. But I do know that whatever we talked made that 30 seconds in the house turn into a minute and thirty seconds. And I ALSO know that at one point in that minute and thirty seconds I paused with some sort of bag of frozen vegetables in my hand with my head cocked to the side and said, “Do I hear screaming?” At which point L decided to go check on the kids, and I went on unloading the groceries. Because I have a mutated common sense gene, apparently.

I do NOT have a mutated Sense of Dread gene though, and as soon as I heard L come back in the house and say “Uh, Rach, we just had a….situation,” that little gene went haywire. I dropped whatever food product I happened to be holding at the time (because, trust me, if you’d heard the Tone in his voice, you would have realized that the circumstances warranted Dramatic Item Abandonment, too) and met L in the living room, Rosie in his arms, and a tearful Noah at his heels.

Turns out that as soon as I crossed the threshold of the house, Rosie took off like a shot toward the road and WALKED STRAIGHT OUT INTO IT. And stood there. DID I MENTION THIS WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Noah tried in vain the whole way to get her turned around, but was unsuccessful. And so he stood at the side of the road, screaming for her to come to him until a neighbor came out of her house and found the whole awful scene and led her back up to our yard.

I have to go lie down for a minute before I go on. BRB.

(Thirty puppy dog and rainbow-filled thoughts later……………………………..)

Right! Now, where was I?

Noah had been terrified, and when I asked him why he hadn’t gone out to get her since he had already followed her all the way to the road, he sobbed, “Because the rule is don’t go in the street!” He was trying to follow the rules and figure out how to keep his sister safe at the same time. I’m pretty sure the crack I heard as he told me that was my heart audibly breaking inside my chest. Because oh, sweet Buddy.

We told him two things with great earnest: one, that he had acted exactly right, and that it wasn’t his fault that she had run out into the road and two: if that ever happened again he had our express permission to (look both ways and then) haul his sister’s chubby rear end back up on to the sidewalk with his bare hands. And then there was lots of hugging.

I went into a room by myself for a few minutes after that, to calm my nerves help shut off my brain’s steady refrain of What. If. What. If. What. If. What. If. What. If. What. If.

Oh, parenting. You’re just not going to let up with the Being Hard at all, are you?


1 Amy { 05.24.10 at 6:25 pm }

Oh, honey. It happens to all of us, but ugh, that what if feeling is awful…

And poor sweet Noah, I’m tearing up. What a great kid.

2 Lisa { 05.24.10 at 9:05 pm }

I hear you!!! So sorry this happened. Remind me to tell you about the “oh, I’ll put up that gate at the top of the stairs in a week or two” story. If I can stomach telling anyone. My two are 18months old and just last week I got up the nerve to walk them into Target to get into a cart. It’s been strollerville up until now. One parent and two toddlers on the loose puts the fear of God in me, for sure.

3 Aunt Rachel { 05.25.10 at 5:35 am }

Ginnymom says that I walked out onto the highway when I was 2 when we lived in Tennessee. Maybe Rosie is taking after her Aunt Rachel?

P.S. Can you hear Darth worrying a whole state away? :)

4 Darth { 05.25.10 at 6:17 am }

When Aunt Rachel was about 3 feet high I had her in a department store – with thousands of 5 and 6 foot high racks of clothes. For some reason I was distracted for about FIVE SECONDS, and, suddenly, A.R. was not in sight. Furthermore, my quick tour of the nearby aisles (between racks) failed to locate her. As I moved faster and faster in ever-widening routes for (what seemed like) SEVERAL MINUTES, still failing to find her, I decided just to head for the front doors, on the theory that the child abductor who had her would eventually have to leave the building! I was about 2/3 of the way there when I spotted A.R., cheerfully moving in and among racks of clothes, tugging on randomly selected items and chirping to herself. By that time my pulse was about 150. Conclusion: you are not the first (or second, or hundredth) parent to have that feeling of panic after only a few seconds of inattention.

There is a REASON parents have a reputation as worriers.

5 Leigh Ann { 05.26.10 at 8:02 am }

remind me to tell you my story of “oh yeah, sera you can go to the public bathroom BY YOURSELF, i’m busy and distracted at the moment….” for some reason my brain wasn’t working that day. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?! my panic attack set in later when i started thinking about all those what ifs. happens to us all.

noah=best big brother ever

6 Allen { 05.27.10 at 12:35 pm }

a boy after my own heart…following those rules!

7 Katy German { 05.27.10 at 7:43 pm }

You are not alone. And you are a great parent.

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