Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Lesson

Being too dependent on others almost cost me Naama tonight.

Just because I have Cerebral Palsy, I depend too much on Mary Poppins or my husband to keep an eye on Naama when we are in public places. After all, they can run after Naama faster than me if they have to, so I figured I don’t have to watch her so carefully…what a fool I am!  I am Naama’s mother. I am responsible for her always and forever, disabled or not!

 Tonight, Mary Poppins, Naama and I were at the mall buying Naama rain boots.
Naama was walking around the store in her new boots.
With my back to Mary Poppins and Naama, I said “I’ll go pay.”
Not even a minute later, while I was still rummaging around in my wallet, I hear Mary Poppins ask “where’s Naama?”
“I don’t know,” I said as I turned to the left to look for Naama.

At that moment I heard a woman behind me say “there’s a little girl here…”
“Yes.” I said, thinking that Mary Poppins for sure heard the woman and took Naama from her. I was so sure Mary Poppins had Naama, I didn’t even turn around to check!

All of a sudden, I glanced out the window. Naama’s cream colored coat caught my eye against the night. Naama was standing outside right next to the curb of the busy mall parking lot! She turned to look back at me in the store at the same moment I saw her standing outside.

“NAAMA!!!!!!!” I screamed.

In total shock, I dropped my wallet and started running toward the entrance. Thankfully we were in the store right next to the entrance.
People say that having a child is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. It’s so true. I always feel like there’s an invisible cord still connecting me and Naama. A cold fear ran through my body in the split second that I saw Naama standing outside so close to danger. This isn’t happening, I thought.

Mary Poppins heard my scream and ran ahead of me out of the mall entrance and grabbed Naama. On my way out right behind Mary Poppins, I glanced at the security guard standing at the entrance.
Some security guard! He didn’t even think to stop a toddler from walking out on her own! There weren’t that many people near the entrance at the time and I highly doubt he didn’t see her. He didn’t even react when I screamed and started running toward the entrance! I felt like punching him in his expressionless face, but getting angry wouldn’t have accomplished anything, so I let it go.

On the bus ride home, Mary Poppins apologized and explained she lost sight of Naama for a split second when she went rooting in her bag for a tissue. A split second is all it takes for a 2 year old to run outside in a flash. I was upset, but not with Mary Poppins. I was upset with myself. Why did I put so much trust into others just because I have Cerebral Palsy and can’t act as fast as an able-bodied person? Mary Poppins hugged me and apologized again.

I knelt next to Naama’s stroller and asked her why she ran outside without mommy or Mary Poppins.
“Abba boots,” she said.
Abba means father in Hebrew.
Naama ran outside because she wanted to show her new boots to her father even though she knew he didn’t come to the mall with us.
“You know you can’t run outside by yourself, right?
“Yeah.”
“You promise you won’t do it again?”
“Yeah.”

I’m not sure Naama really understood our conversation, but I let it go. She’s 2. How can she understand the consequences of such a dangerous action?
I'm sure this type of situation happens to countless parents and children. I feel like it's almost a right of passage that this happened. Now we can move on to the next trying experience of toddlerhood! 

Kidding aside, I’ve heard parents of older children say that when their child does something really dangerous, they spank their child so the child will associate pain with danger. I'm not so into that type of punishment/teaching a lesson. How do I teach a toddler that going outside on her own is very dangerous?