Here’s a little story from my afternoon…
We were at our neighborhood playground with our neighbor friends. Since Grayson’s speech therapy was cancelled for today, I had driven home for a few minutes to get him off the school bus, then brought him back to the playground to let the kids play longer. I had only been back with G about 10 minutes when it started to rain a little. Most everyone who was at the playground then decided to leave, and our kids decided they wanted to go too. Charlotte was riding home with my neighbor, and I was trying to get the boys to our van, while pushing the wheelchair and lugging the ride-on toy that Nolan had brought.
Nolan (who is a runner) broke free from my hand and ran towards my neighbor’s van. I knew she was right there, so I kept pushing G the other direction on the sidewalk, towards our van, thinking I’d just grab him when I got G parked at our van. Then all of a sudden, I saw Nolan running away from her van, towards the middle of the parking lot where another person was pulling out in their SUV. I don’t think the woman driving saw him, and I panicked. I started screaming and ran for him. I think she saw or heard me screaming because she stopped, just feet from Nolan. I scooped Nolan up and then turned and started to panic even more.
When I had run towards Nolan, I let go of G’s wheelchair and didn’t put on the brake. Now, I see G’s wheelchair rolling towards the curb and a parked landscaping van, and I was too far away to catch it. I sprinted as fast as I could, but I couldn’t stop him in time. G’s wheelchair hit the side of the van, rolled off the curb, then fell over on it’s side, and all I saw was G’s head hit the pavement.
As fast as I could, I ran over to him, and all I remember was screaming “No, No!” the whole time as I picked up his chair. G was doing that silent cry/scream that kids do when they are really upset or hurt, and I was so scared. His eyes were closed for a really long time. I didn’t know what to do; he was so securely strapped in his chair and I didn’t know if he was seriously hurt or not. Finally, he started audibly crying and opened his eyes. He wasn’t bleeding and I didn’t see any knots on his head. His face was pretty red, though.
I really didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something. I decided it was best that I take him home to check him out- I’m so glad we were just blocks from the house. The men who were in the van that his chair hit were so kind. They helped me strap his chair in our van and were genuinely concerned about G. The woman driving the SUV that Nolan ran in front of got out and was helping too. I hope I thanked them enough.
For such a dramatic few seconds, thankfully the aftermath was less dramatic. We got home, and G seems fine. He has some scratches on his face, but I think the chair took the brunt of the impact of the fall. I will say, I’m really impressed with his chair- it really protected him! He doesn’t have any other injuries, but I’ve been so worried about him. I’m really thankful his night nurse will be able to watch him all night tonight.
The whole incident was so scary and I am still so shaken up. It could have easily been so much more tragic: Nolan could have gotten hit by that car and G could have been seriously injured by his fall.
I so often brush off the fact that just managing these three little people is so, so hard. Just keeping them safe is difficult. So many times I tell myself to just suck it up, that lots of people have this many, or more, kids and yeah, it’s hard, but I just need to do it. But tonight, I’m going to acknowledge, and sit with the fact that having a kid with profound special needs, a 4 year old and a 2 year old, is really, really f’ing hard sometimes. Sometimes, there’s absolutely chaos. And I am going to, and do, mess up sometimes. And sometimes things just happen.
There are minutes, and usually hours, of every single day that I feel like I’m drowning. I try to laugh it off, as so many of us do, calling myself a hot mess and trying to just roll my eyes at my imperfections. But the truth is, parenting in this stage can be really lonely, defeating, and scary. When an innocent trip to the playground almost turns into tragedy in an instant, it’s soul-crushing.
I’m not going to give in to mom-guilt, because I followed my instincts. There was nothing I could have done differently. If I had taken the time to put the brake on the wheelchair, Nolan may have gotten hit by the car. And I don’t want to be a hovering mom either; I was a really scared kid, and I don’t want to raise scared kids or be a scared mom. I really believe that what happened today was just a freak series of events, and praise God the outcome was good.
But yeah, parenting little people is hard, and messy. Now please, pour me some wine.