I have been beat.
I can’t help but feeling, as I formulate the next sentence that will tell you the next part of this story, that there will be hands that will rub together in glee at my defeat. I can’t help but feel that I am taking my finger out of the dike and I will be bombarded with a jubilant chorus of, “I Told You So” and, “You Thought You Were So Wise and Smarter than I but, you’re just a Punk Kid who is too young, too stupid, too naïve to listen and see, SEE?! THIS is where it got you!!! You should have LISTENED to US, you uppity girl!”
I can’t help want to hang my head in shame but, never, not ever, acquiescence. I fucked up. I fucked up BIG time but, you can take your, “I Told You So” and, “you’re Punk Kid” and “Too Young and Too Stupid and Naïve” and put it in a capsule form and, because I’m nice, get it all gooey before you shove it up your rectum.
All that defiance doesn’t change the fact that, I have been beaten. I have been defeated. I have tasted fear. My naked feet have pounded concrete, harboring the last effort of a Winter Cold Front, in search of my almost nineteen month toddler.
How did he outwit me? How did a person, who comes barely past my knee and who needs naps, sneak past my defenses to break free and run and catapult me into a Rabbit Hole of black and terror? When did I get so dull, dumb and defenseless? How had my trusty Mom radar not pick up on the still silence of the room, sooner?
“Mustn’t think of that…you noticed in time…but just only…”
I’ve read books with passages that talk about instinct and truth, dropping like a large, unforgiving stone to the bottom of a well, as if it were your stomach.
I had only been able to imagine, till now.
A cold swept over me, having nothing to do with the breeze sweeping into the open windows and, the hairs in my ears vibrated against the unnatural silence. Like all of us, if we would but just notice, I realized that Colin’s presence, his life force, was absent and there was a stifling emptiness in the house. I was alone.
With my entire body, I tore away from what I was doing and, still with my entire body; I turned and twisted to feel, to hear, to look.
It only took seconds but, it seemed like minutes.
My eyes scanned all of the places he could hide but, my eyes were only fooling, I knew better.
My frequency went into high gear and I picked up on the signal coming from the dining room window.
I parted the curtains, parted the blinds and, stood in stupid shock for about three seconds as I realized that the screen was bent.
My mind played a short little movie, courtesy of my vivid imagination and, it saw a Goblin-Like Colin bent slightly at the waist, one chubby hand pressed so firmly against the screen that it made score marks, a delighted, mischievous smile spreading across his face. With eyes lighted by adventure and mischief, he took one more glance at my back and pushed at the screen. With a, “POP!” the screen came loose at the bottom and he slipped out, ungracefully but, free.
Colin’s chubby feet, given recently to peeling a layer of silky, satin baby skin, padded across giant wood chip, heedless of the discomfort of the edges pushing into his tender soles.
With the wind whipping around him, clad in nothing but what I call is White Trash Uniform, (a diaper and nothing more) he moved gleefully across the woodchips, behind the bushes, did god knows what and found himself at our doorstep, behind a pillar that hid him from my view when I emerged minutes later, screaming his name.
From that bent screen, I knew he had gone through and had gone only god knows where.
The dark horse in my heart went from a trot to a gallop. I ran to the door, bewilderment and terror my mask. I leapt over the baby gate and my feet flew across the cold pavement. I stopped at the junction between left and right and my head swooped and swayed, eyes frantically trying to absorb every piece of information from every glance.
I screamed, “COLIN!”
My voice became more shrill and frantic with every note.
A dog barked next door, three staccato yaps, before I turned and ran back up the walk to our house and, because god or fate or whoever holds the puppet strings wanted to teach me a lesson, I was led to where my charge was.
In slow motion, careless and joyful and oblivious to the terror I was feeling, Colin stepped out from behind the furthest pillar of our doorstep, a beatific smile on his angelic face, backlit by the setting sun.
I had registered all of it, tucking it away for now, before flying over the pavement and swooping him into my arms.
He was real, he was solid, and he was in my arms and nowhere else.
How could I have been so careless with such a treasure?
How could I…How could I…How could I…
HOW COULD I?!?!?!
My heart flared in anger at the stupid windows. Why didn’t they open from the top down?! My heart flared anger at my Son.
My heart flared anger at myself.
What if…what if…WHAT IF?!?!?!
Yet…yet…even as I was preparing to be crowned with the, “Worst Mother In The World” Award, I reached out to a friend and to my Husband and…I was reminded that the worst had happened and, nothing more. My friend and my Husband reminded me that I should be grateful, that I should take this as a lesson that I should not leave my windows open, unguarded against a toddler who is sure to be innovative, imaginative and fresh in ways I have not been for many years.
Colin defeated me, beat me and reminded me that he has quite a leg up on his dear old Mum. He has a new brain, a new soul. He is fearless, inquisitive, imaginative. Colin is all of those things because Mark and I have not done anything to stifle those things, even if it means more of our hair turns gray and we are exhausted at the end of the night and we wonder why we ever thought that parenting was a “fun” idea.
Even a considerable wave of fear that threatened to swamp me, has receded and reminded me that, for better and only a little worse, what Colin did today is a sign that he is an independent, secure, fearless, inquisitive and imaginative individual. He feels loved and has self esteem and, because he’s a toddler and his mom was distracted, he was a bit eager about wading into the deep end but, it didn’t take me more than a minute to realize it.
Maybe it isn’t that I was beaten by a toddler today but, instead, I was shown that there is no resting on laurels when you’re a parent.
Please refrain from saying, “I told you so” or anything of the like.
I’ve been scared and hurt enough, thank you.
No spankings for this girl, please.
6 months ago