I was talking with a group of friends the other day about the latest stitches incident in our house. I believe it was the gushing head wound that was the result of one son throwing a train track piece at his brother. Someone mentioned that she was impressed that I was telling the story so calmly since it was so horrible. I told my friend (with girls) that this is my life and I have just figured out how to plod through and save up my hysteria for the really, really bad things if they happen.
Fast forward to last Friday. I was busy trying to get ready for a food and wine show. I was loading up the van with crates of clothing to sell as my kids wandered around somewhat aimlessly. Ethan was around the side of the house with Mason (or so I thought) and Nate was standing on the driver's seat turning absolutely every single lever on that he possibly could.
I had one eyeball on the driveway and one eyeball on the back of the van. I looked up to glare at a loud truck barreling down the road above the unenforceable 20 mile per hour speed limit sign on our dead end residential street. He wasn't going much faster but I have grown weary of diving into ditches off the street on walks down our usually deserted street.
Thirty seconds later I heard a yell on the street.
"Hey, buddy, STOP!"
I turned around in horror to see fifteen-month-old Mason standing at the top of the driveway in the street. He laughed and ran toward my neighbor. He was around the side of the house seconds before with his brother and then he was in the street. I ran up the driveway and snatched Mason from my neighbor's arms. I scolded him and turn to apologize to my neighbor.
"You shouldn't be sorry. You should be terrified."
Well, that's one way to tell me. I mumbled thanks and walked back down the hill. I looked at Ethan and he looked back at me. He's five. It's not really his job to watch his baby brother and for me to expect him to watch Mason is really not acceptable. I had done the math and decided I had three choices. I could strap him in his car seat (in 92 degrees), I could leave him in the house unattended until I finished or I could let Ethan watch him. Clearly I made the wrong choice.
The thing is, while I'm sure my neighbor was just as upset as I was, his judgment of my outward emotions was incorrect and completely wrong. If I freaked out every single time something horrible possibly could have happened to my children, I would have to be committed. I'm sorry I didn't SAY I was terrified and I'm sorry I didn't collapse in a puddle of tears like he thought I should. From here on out, Mason gets strapped into the car seat. Life is full of "but-for" lessons and I learned mine. That's enough emotion for me.