Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Parental Shame

Okay, I've been avoiding this post for a very long time, but my list of drafts is on "E," so I guess it's time. In case you think I'm a perfect parent, you're going to love this post; it's my Worst-Moment-in-My-Parenting-History story. (I've seen the "award" but don't remember who has it or what it's called anymore, so feel free to lay it on me after you read this post.)

Just so you know that I don't have a favorite child, I'll tell you that I've actually failed both of my children. First, when Kyle was a toddler choking on a nickel in our livingroom; I, being the quick-thinking parent that I am, rushed to the phone and called 911. However, when the operator asked, "911. What's your emergency?" I replied,

"-------" "--------"

That's right; I could not speak. The knot in my throat was so big, I could do nothing but open my mouth and grunt. (Fortunately, Mr.4444 was calling from his phone simultaneously.)

Obviously, Kyle survived. Moral of the story: Don't expect me to save your ass if you are ever in a life-threatening emergency. Mr.4444 is the one you want, as evidenced here.

So, enough stalling, I guess. I'll spill, but I want you to know that I carry more than a little guilt about this incident; it's still upsetting to think about.

It was 2003. Kyle was eight, and Kendall was 5. We had been running errands in Appleton, on our way to visit Grandma Grace at the nursing home she was in. I wanted to run into the mall for a quick gift for Grace. As usual, I was racing a hundred miles per hour, dragging the kids in my wake. Because I was such a "responsible" parent, I couldn't leave them in the vehicle (Mr.4444's Suburban, actually) while I went in, so we rushed into the mall.

I completed my purchased and said, "Let's go, come on!" to the kids, who were trailing behind me. "Hurry up!" I called, keeping my brisk pace. Moments later, we reached the truck, and I hopped into the driver's seat. Hearing Kyle's seatbelt click, I started the truck, put it in drive, and let go of the break.

That's when I heard Kyle's small, unhurried voice in the back say, "Mom?"

At that precise moment, I looked in the left side mirror of my now-rolling vehicle and (this is where my heart pains from the memory) saw my poor little girl, frantically running alongside the truck, slapping at the side window with her little hands. Un. Be. Lievable. In my rush to get going, and hearing one door shut, I assumed that the kids had climbed in through the same door, and I prepared to drive off. Because I had been running around like a flipping lunatic, I did not see Kendall drop her Silly Putty and stop to pick it up, falling behind by ten seconds or so.

I slammed on the brakes, and Kendall got in. (I shudder to think about what could have happened, had I not stopped in time.)

Though I haven't let go of my guilt quite yet, I have found it easy enough to harass Kyle about how little he seemed bothered by his mother driving away without his little sister that day. (He insists that he had at least a little urgency in his voice when he called for me to notice, but if you are an older brother, I'm pretty sure you can guess just how urgent he sounded. )

True to her nature, Kendall was a little panicked, but not angry. She was just glad we stopped in time for her to get into the vehicle. Poor kid; she was so used to having to run to keep up, she thought it was her own fault. She forgave me (the angel!) and has never even once teased me about it.

Some day, I hope to forgive myself.

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