Being a parent means unrelenting barely suppressed panic, a latent cancer ready to metastasize at the least provocation. Because awful things happen, all the time. Most of us, as much as we fear it, will never have our kid snatched. Nope, the prosaic is the real danger.
There’s a reason why the most common phrase you hear in an emergency room is, “I was only gone for a second…!” During my time there Monday afternoon, only one person failed to treat me with compassion, a pregnant administrator-type who was taking my insurance information. She was cold and perfunctory, dripping with judgment. I wasn’t offended, but I did want to ask her if that’s her first child in her belly. Because, simply, accidents happen. You only have two arms and two legs, and children are wily little creatures with no sense at all of their own vulnerability.
Vincent fell out of a window in our new second floor apartment. I had taken four steps out of the room to throw away a dead fly he’d found on the window sill, and, from what he told me later, in that time he saw another fly, on the window screen, and he went after it. The screen popped out and he fell.
Four steps out of the room I heard his cry, ran back to ask him what was wrong, and he was gone.
You could say there’s a simple solution to these types of prosaic dangers, window guards in this case. Well, yes, of course. We had every intention of getting them as soon as we could, and they’re certainly installed now. But we’ve only been in this apartment a week, and most of that time has been spent caring for fluey Vincent.
I guess what I’m saying is that as a parent you have a thousand fears for your child, and at some point, something horrible will happen — and I hope when it does, you’re as lucky as we were on Monday. Because I’ve never been more terrified than those seconds I looked out the window to see my sweet boy on the ground below.
Vincent fell from a second floor window (of an apartment building that has high ceilings, which makes it equivalent to the third floor of a house), landed on grass, with the window screen partially cushioning his fall as well, and suffered only a couple cuts and bruises.
Not only did he not die, he didn’t break a single bone. I wouldn’t know that until we’d gotten to the other side of the 911 ambulance ride emergency room hours, but we were so so lucky, and part of me still can’t believe it.
My friend, Laura, has a theory that, because Vincent had never experienced such a thing before, he didn’t know to be scared when he fell, so he didn’t tense up, and in that way was able to absorb the impact without great bodily trauma, aided by the grassy area and window screen.
I can’t say. But that night our boy slept close between us, while we touched him ever so often, just to check he was still there, and breathing, just as we did when he was new.
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