Kids just don’t understand

Recently, I’ve been working out why I believe in god and just what god is, as I’ve promised several times to do, but it’s been straining my walnut-sized brain, so I thought I’d try something easier, like attempted infanticide through negligence. It turns out that I’m not the only one who might be guilty of that this week. In fact, it seems that Target is getting in on the act, upping the ante, attempting to kill thousands of kids through corporate negligence. And, of course, by negligence, I mean “a parent who doesn’t watch their baby for every nanosecond of his life,” a violation of parenting regulations that I’m clearly guilty of since 3B’s now sleeping in his crib in the next room, and I don’t even have the video monitor on.

My first slip up this week wasn’t even my own slip up–it was 3B’s slip down–in the bathtub. 3B was in his three-point stance, one hand mashing a plastic toy into his mouth so he could gnaw it into submission, his other hand and knees firmly planted on the floor of the tub (and, yes, we have a rubber bathmat). Because this is a boy who, as his great-Grammy says, “crawls like a shot,” and has been stable on his hands and knees for months now–who is, in fact, starting to walk on his own behind push toys–I was watching him, but not hovering with my hands at his sides. Which is, I’m sure, precisely why his one hand that was on the tub started to slip.

3B turned to look at that hand, lost his balance, splashed down face first, rolled over, and came up spitting and screaming–all in the time it took me to move my hands from the edge of the tub, where I was kneeling, into the tub to scoop him up and cradle his soaking, sobbing body against my chest and try to comfort him. I know that it took less than two seconds for all of that to happen, from his hand slipping to my holding him, but it seemed like I was moving through cold molasses. I just couldn’t get to him fast enough and get him up out of the water fast enough.

I clearly recall thinking, “Oh my god, he’s going to drown in the bathtub.” It was terrifying, and yet, at the same time, I was perfectly calm because I knew that he would be OK. 3B was more startled than injured. I’m sure that he sucked more water out of Barky’s bowl earlier this week when he got to it faster than we could than he sucked down when he took his tumble in the tub. . . . Oh yeah, there was the whole drinking-from-the-dog-bowl situation earlier this week, which I wasn’t going to include here because it wasn’t life threatening, but there you go. Bonus parental screw up in this post. The good news? His breath didn’t become as fetid as Barky’s from just a few sips.

Today, not content to let Target corner the market on sharp choking hazards, I somehow let 3B get a pushpin into his mouth. We were at work, and I was holding him, sitting next to a bulletin board, and talking with 3B and a coworker as Mama set up his booster seat–Mama and 3B have been coming by once a week for lunch for the last few months. I checked out the board and saw that there were pushpins, but none within reach, so I kept an eye on 3B, but didn’t expect that there was any danger. Apparently, 3B is either a young Stretch Armstrong or had already beaten me to the board by the time I checked for pins because when I was lowering him into his booster seat, I saw something yellow floating through his mouth. I swept my finger through–just to make sure he hadn’t grabbed some paper somewhere, or chewed off the corner of a book–and I fished out a bright yellow, shiny, sharp pushpin. Yeah, that gave me pause. Hard to believe how fast he is, or how slow I am, and how lucky we both are.

The third incident wasn’t technically on my watch, although I was in the room. Tonight, Mama was attending to 3B in the bath when he again did his Jacques Cousteau impression, sans scuba gear, to which Mama observed, “We’ve got to get a better bathmat for him.” Again, 3B was more startled than anything and, in fact, went straight back into the bath to continue playing. Nothing comes between baby and his bath.

Perhaps god was trying to get me to empathize with 3B and sent those two drivers to try and kill me on my ride home today. The coincidences were suspicious–they were both in cars, I was on my bike; they were both attempting illegal left-hand turns, I was on my bike; they were both about as observant as rocks, I was on my bike; they both seemed startled not only to see me, but that I was upset at having to swerve to avoid getting run over by them, I was on my bike. Depending on how strict your interpretation of scripture is, I suppose that I’m no better than they are, having asked through their open windows just what the fuck they thought they were doing, but I’m hoping that god believes that my dropping the f-bomb at a time of mortal peril is a slightly lesser offense than those drivers nearly killing me because they were late to soccer practice or happy hour or their nasal depilation appointment.

So now that we’ve all survived the week thus far, I’ll spend the weekend trying to finish up that post on god, and the one on the firefighters who gave one of us a shiny gift, and the one about the wonderful gift from Brother #2 that’s saving us hours every week . . . oh, and waiting for child protective services to come knock on our door. But, before they frog-march me down to the bad-daddy hoosegow, I wanted to let you other parents out there know that you’re not the only ones guilty of averting your gaze for a nanosecond, or of having kids who don’t quite grok how dangerous life is. So, to all you parents all across the land, take it from me, kids just don’t understand the survival of the fittest.

Subscribe to the Bradstein feed.
Powered by FeedBurner–new and improved!

  • Anonymous

    The King is flu like this week, but I have lots to say on this subject. Mostly you fret too much, let the kid swim!! And think back at how many things you got into as a kid. And screw the government and fight the man. And stop riding a damn bike ya hippy. And did you see that Discovery channel is looking for people to ride with them in france?I have to go noe the fever is bad and I ramble.

    TCB on 103 fever.

  • You’re not a bad daddy! Though moments like those always make parents think that of themselves. Now say that last sentence with a lisp.

    Last spring I found out from the very nice people at the Hudson Valley Poison Control Center, whose phone number is now written clearly on the list by the fridge, that lily of the valley flowers are only toxic in very large quantities, not the dainty few my 2 year old noshed on.

    By the way, I know Target is bad and all for the sock thing, but our bath mat came from there and my kids have never slipped. It’s the dark blue one, house brand I think.

  • Hey, so long as the bath mat doesn’t come with a set of lawn darts, we’ll check it out. It’s gotta be better than the teeny, tiny one that we got at IKEA.

  • Perhaps swim lessons are in order. Then my nephew could learn to hold his breath when he does that. Remember once is an accident, twice is a game.

    And then, fast forward about 15 years and they think they can take control of 3500 pounds of steel. It is a scary thought, and even more so when you think that you get to (are required to) assist and join in the risk of life and limb. Those nanoseconds get even scarier. Remember that when you are on your bicycle, and if you see the big blue thing coming at you, get off the road. How did our parents ever get through teaching us to drive?