Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stairway to Regret

I think we can all agree that the idea of guiding and crafting a child into a unique but normal human being is more daunting than any 9 to 5.  (Even food service.)  We all mess up from time to time, but the hardest part is not beating yourself up for the mistakes made along the way.

For example, I need to stop feeling guilty about Cael's bouts with MRSA when he was a baby.  That wasn't my fault, and he's been free of it for years.

I need to quit worrying about Graham's speech issues.  He's getting help at school, and I know it will turn out just fine.

And when it comes to Adler, I need to stop regretting the stained concrete we sprang for after last year's post-flood renovation.

What?  My regret doesn't seem related?  I didn't think it was either, until Adler's little body tumbled down the stairs and his head made contact with that lovely stained concrete.

Because the top of our basement stairs are framed by the wall on one side and a railing on the other, we cannot use a traditional baby gate to keep our inquisitive (and now crawling) Adler on the main level of the house.  With the other boys, we used L-shaped plastic baby fencing held in place by foam-padded twist-ties, but it was never a great system because it was still somewhat loose at the very bottom, but it got the job done.

What I hadn't considered was that, when the older boys were babies, I didn't have older boys.  Cael and Graham are constantly traipsing up and down the stairs and not putting the gate back in it's proper place, and despite countless conversations about how serious it would be if Adler were to fall, on Monday it happened.

I was cutting out some trading cards for Cael in my bedroom when I looked up to see Adler's feet round the door behind the baby gate.  I ran to him even faster than I run for the ice cream truck, but before I could get to him I heard the first thump of him hitting the top step, and as I turned the corner, I watched helplessly as he bounced --bounced-- down the stairs, flopping from head to belly to back, and hitting them bottom with a resounding thwack that I will never forget.

I tried to triage as quickly as possible, and could see very quickly that he was crying and moving, so I scooped him up in my arms and ran upstairs to make sure he hadn't broken anything or hit his head so hard he had a concussion.  I couldn't get a good look at him because he was crying so hard, so I latched him on to nurse to settle him down.

Seriously, that fixes everything.

Adler's eyes looked normal, he didn't flinch when I checked him arms and legs, and when he bit me and laughed as I yelped out in pain, I knew he was okay.  But I wasn't okay.

It took nearly all day for me to shake that heart-stopping, nervous feeling, and just as I was beginning to relax, his goose egg was starting to form like a "live nude girls" style flashing arrow pointing to his point of impact, reading, "my mom let me fall and I landed HERE". 

There are so many things that I wish I could change.  I wish I'd seen Graham move the gate and not put it back.  I wish I hadn't been cutting out those ridiculous anime cards, not only because they outnumber all of the grains of sand on the earth, but because they distracted me from protecting my sweet little one.  But I also wish he'd landed on something soft instead of the cold, hard floor I spent several thousands of dollars completing, not considering how it would feel pressed up against Adler's skull.

But what I wish most is that the fall had given him a healthy dose of fear.  Or that the bottom of the stairs had walls...

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