Hyperventilation

I took the kids for a bike ride around the block before dinner tonight. We love to poke around with no particular agenda while we wait for Dad to come home from work. Poppy asks for these outings by suggesting, “Let’s go see what we can see today.” Now that the twins are a little more confident on their bicycles (with training wheels), they venture a little further away from me as I haul the baby in the wagon up the numerous hills in our neighborhood. I’m always a little nervous as there are always the cars that go too fast for a residential neighborhood. There are also lots of cars parked on the street which makes for tricky blind spots and obstructed visibility. The kids know the rules. Ride with traffic or, better yet, on the sidewalk. They always stop well before we approach the four-way intersection. They are good about stopping when I panic about (fill in the blank) and yell for them to wait for me to catch up. I must admit, these meandering outings were much more relaxing for me when it was the twins who were riding in the wagon. We all made it home with no trauma, but I was glad to let down my guard for a spell. I started making dinner. Russell was in the bedroom doing his Mr. Rogers routine with his shoes. Poppy decided to take a shower. And Charlie was playing with Mary Hazel. All was normal. Until it wasn’t. As I grabbed drinks out of the refrigerator, I heard a crash so loud that I started running toward the noise before my brain even processed what was happening. In the three seconds it took me to reach the twins’ bedroom, I braced myself for the worst thing I could imagine but tried to remain calm in order to process what I might find. As I crossed the threshold to the bedroom, I saw my five-year-old son trying to hold up the overturned dresser as his baby sister ran in the opposite direction out of harm’s way. I swooped in and grabbed him as the dresser settled into place. Reflecting back on it now, I remember him saying in a very calm voice, “Something fell, Mama.” Perhaps he was already trying to downplay the disaster to minimize possible disciplinary action or perhaps he was actually in shock himself. (A few minutes later, he cried mournfully and wandered from room to room.) My next move was to pick up the baby and hold her tightly to me while I rocked back and forth repeating, “It’s OK…it’s OK…it’s OK.” I was mostly reassuring myself as the baby didn’t seem to understand the severity of what had just happened. (“Things fall off, Mama?”) I couldn’t close my eyes because I immediately pictured all the alternate versions of what I could have found upon walking into that bedroom only seconds before. My heart was beating like a kick drum. That’s when I noticed that I was also hyperventilating. The only other time I can remember doing that was when the doctor on the phone told me by baby had cancer. I was that scared. There was an unspeakably tragic story last week about a local two-year-old boy who tried to reach something on the top of a dresser and was crushed when it shifted. I read this story as I rocked the baby to sleep last week and thought that I would rather die a thousand deaths than imagine something like that happening to my own child. You don’t think it could ever happen to you. This dresser never seemed unstable to me. I open and close the drawers a dozen times a day and never suspected that the massive piece of furniture could topple. I still have no idea how it did. We cannot even recreate a scenario in which it could have tipped over. The handyman is installing anchor bolts on Monday. I strongly suggest that anyone who has small children and large furniture do the same. I’m afraid this is not a warm, fuzzy, or witty post. I hesitated whether or not to even write about it. By writing about it, I thought it would make the event seem even more real. I certainly don’t want to worry my family with the “what ifs”. I decided to post it because I really want to make other moms and dads aware of something I never thought would happen in my own house. Call your own handyman and install some anchor bolts of your own. I’m not a big fan of hyperventilating and I get sick to my stomach when I think about what the mother of that little boy must be going through right now. We all have near misses. I was reminded today to minimize the risk.

Breathing in. Breathing out.

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