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Karmann Ghia

February 9, 2013

I saw the hands go up to their mouths, parents eyes waxing with worry and felt that panicked rushing inhale of breath, anxious gasps all around me and I’d no idea why….

Now I didn’t see it, but my sweet sprite of a 5-year-old was zooming down the snow hill when a bigger kids tube cut sideways and ran right over him. He flipped over a bit. I saw a Mom below, spring into action and from the top of the hill where I stood, I threw down my mismatched travel mug of Mocha and uttered “shit’ with concern and worry. His wide flashy eyes have always been sparkly. I didn’t need to take another step down towards him, he was grinning ear to ear and his chilly red cheeks perked into these pink apples with his smile. “I’m fine,” he assured us in his smiley, bouncy voice. Relieved, I glanced around, realizing I had said what I said checking the other parents and kids to see if anyone was bothered. Soon things started back up where they had left off.

Of course he’s fine. It’s a snowy hill and he is on a blow up tube and got run over by another blow up tube. Now granted they could have clunked heads like bowling balls or bent some appendage backward with a break or a sprain or worse I suppose. But this is what kiddom is right? Breaking us in, teaching us, calibrating us to a certain level of discomfort so we can cope for the long haul. The fact that any of us survived our own wonder years is a testament to that first toddle your baby makes almost falling, almost head bumping, almost…but skates through, usually, mostly, as they are supposed to.

There is that time before Babies R’ Us. Before every fear and inadequacy was teased out of us leaving space. Space that we could fill with worry or with stuff. Their stuff. And we had all of it. Some of it was fun and great. And some was not. And the not great was the flat monitor that slid under the ‘Sealy’ crib mattress which would sound an alarm if it detected too long a pause before the babies next heartbeat. Really? And these first time parents spent our first night home with our babies waking in panic to an alarm telling us….well you get the sense of it, until my Husband had the mind to and did shut it off. In truth being a parent is probably the most frightening thing any of us will ever do. But an alarm for heartbeat misses….I couldnt have scared the sanity out of me any other way. I was 5 years old when they brought my baby Sister home from the hospital. For the first few days she slept in a wicker laundry basket. Not like neglected laundry but bundled and tucked and fine. BC, before car seats, my Mother tells me I rode in a shelf seat in the back of my parents Karmann Ghia for as long as I could fit there. Not recommended for sure but a point of reference, a little pull back on just how far parenting has gone. For certain, the parents before made their own slurry of mistakes as I will. I just wonder sometimes how it got from a certain lack of safety with children, to the outer banks of over-inserting our worry all over our sweet maniacs.

My Dad’s flexible flyer was wood and metal, and he showed me how the front bar of it tilted side to side so I could steer. So I could steer. That’s all. That was it and that was enough. My friends and I, no parents except maybe a few, flew down hills and crashed and went off in the woods to make better sled trails which always had the risk and eventuality of head crashing with a good tree. I can think of at least once when I walked home frostbitten, wet, breathless and probably closer to a concussion than I or my parents knew. When I take my kids sledding they expect that I’ve got a ready supply of dry mittens, snacks, drinks…How could they ever cope with the damp, mildly frostbitten walk home reminiscing that would probably be good for them?

It comes into focus from here of course. First babies:no refined sugar, no video games, homemade baby food. Fourth baby has her own Wii controller (the one sans batteries) and loves to ‘play’ with her brothers and Sister. First babies Raffi. Last one Foster the People, oh but they all have heard their Dad’s acoustic often. I see everyday, what my sweethearts need from me is for their Dad & I to be here. Sometimes the only thing to do is be here with them while they struggle and hurt and stretch and grow. To be with them because there are scary things about the world, because we ultimately have no control, and because someday an alarm may or may not go off when our heartbeat isnt followed by the next. And I’m finding that if I can bring some acceptance into my head about that, the days in my zoo are a little less white knuckle and have a few more breathes and hugs.



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