Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shaken, Not Stirred

Before I became a dad, I thought to myself my main job as a father would not to make some stupid mistake that got my child hurt seriously or worse. I've therefore avoided the local custom of kids standing in open sunroofs while dad barrels down mountains. We do pile one or two children on the scooter with us from time to time, but that's just the way it has to be at times. Elliot has had two scares in the past month, though, that have reaffirmed my belief that parents should always err on the side of caution.

Tonight, as I was working (really) on the computer Amalia came over and gave me a grape. Grapes make me nervous because I read somewhere once they are easy to choke on. I took note and went back to my work. A few minutes later, I heard a grunting sound from the living room -- not too unusual for our house, but I remembered the grapes. Sure enough, Elliot is draped over the arm of the couch full on choking. I ran over and lifted him off the couch, and from behind put my hands together where you see people in movies when they perform the Heimlich maneuver. Michaela now aware something was going on hollered for me to hit his back as I did so. In a few seconds (seemed a hell of a lot longer), the grape came out, along with the contents of his stomach. For the second time in a month, Elliot was suddenly aware of something approaching a feeling of mortality. Isaac seems over-aware, while his brother has always assumed he's invincible. He cried in shock for a couple of minutes and then was fine.

In August, we were at a friend's child's birthday party. The kids played in the pool for a long time and a good time was had by all. Elliot and Isaac are both fairly strong swimmers so we keep an eye on them but do not stand right next to them. At one point, I heard a mother shouting Elliot's name and assumed he was wrestling with someone. As I looked over Elliot was completely submerged and struggling to get his head above water. The problem was the lady's son was on top of his head. He was not confident in the water and got some place he could not reach the bottom. in the poor boy's panic, he grabbed Elliot.

I swam over as fast as I could, but obstacles in the way delayed everyone trying to reach them. I finally pulled him up and sat him on the side of the pool.

"Are you OK? Elliot. Talk to me. Are you OK?" He looked fine, but I wanted to hear him say something to make sure.

"Elliot. Are you too scared to talk?" He shakes his head, but remains silent.

Finally, he says, "I couldn't breathe air."

He was dumbfounded. The kid who's been diving in the the pool since before he could swim, at last realized he was not a fish.

Being a parent is a never ending battle of nerves. I cannot believe we have three and some have even more. With every passing day, I realize what my mother and father went through and wish I had been more well behaved.

Actually, I take that back. I was a great kid. I wish my sister had been better behaved, though.