It’s Wednesday evening, we’ve done some homework, eaten dinner, cleaned up and still have time for a quick walk around the block together. I push H in his car, and A rides her scooter. She never goes out of my sight and she knows when to stop and wait for us to catch up. We approach the last corner on the home stretch back to the house and instead of stopping like she’s supposed to, she keeps going. I want to scream her name, but instead I just walk a little faster and let it slide this time.
I turn the corner to see her about six houses ahead of me. Again, I want to scream for her but I let it be. Then, I see a beat up, muddy truck rolling down the street – uncomfortably level with A. I watch her. I watch him. She stops to look back at me. I see the truck stop. She keeps going, and I start to run a little, playing it off as if I’m joking around with H. She sets off on the scooter again and right before she gets to our house I yell “A!!!! Come look at this!” She doesn’t miss a beat, she comes back to me and the truck drives away. I quickly find something to show her, a leaf or an acorn… anything that will erase the fear from my face but make her smile. I hug her, tell her I love her and we finish the walk together.
Hell hath no fury like that of a mother who thinks her child isn’t safe. I’m only human – for all I know the person driving the truck was on his phone, looking for an address, or trying to figure out how to get out of the neighborhood. It might have been nothing, the dramatics could have been made up in my mind. Regardless, the angst is very real. It’s a clear reminder that no matter how hard we try it is impossible to keep our children safe 24 hours a day – 7 days a week and still let them be humans. Even when they are within our reach.
Later in the week we watched The Croods together and there was a specific remark made near the end that really stuck with me – most likely because of the previous situation nonetheless, it’s relevant for a lot of reasons.
“This isn’t living…. It’s just not dying”
Between my background in Mental Health, working with children that face severe mental health issues and the Five O’Clock news I would be lying if I said after certain societal events home schooling my children never crosses my mind. I have no idea if they will get to experience a sleep over the way I did. If riding their bikes to school alone were option, would I let them? I don’t know. In another couple of years can they walk to the park and then to the local snow cone shop like I use to with my friend in the summer? I don’t know. It’s so easy to say no and justify it by telling them and yourself that “it’s just not as safe as it use to be out there” but at that point are we living? Are we letting them live? Or are we just sailing through life in the dark pretending as if there is nothing out there worth experiencing that may also pose risk?
Are we living? Or are we just not dying?