Slow lane has its bumps, too

There’s nothing like a few close calls and scares to bring a family closer together.

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We’ve had quite a run in the last few months: Girl from the East’s big fall (translate: big hospital bill); the Mammogram-O-Rama (again, hospital bill); the dangerous bed recall; and finally the Smash-Up. We decided to move in the slow lane, where it is safe and quiet.

 I thought I’d take baby girl to the park to play. Within minutes of our arrival, a girl of about 9 attempted to run up one of those huge corkscrew-shaped slides, lost her grip and tumbled to the mulch below. It’s hard to call a fall like that. She landed on a soft surface, but it was from about seven feet. She was bleeding, but not profusely. 

But both her reaction (hysteria) and her caregiver’s (horror and panic) set off a wave of fear and nausea in both baby girl and myself. They refused offers of help, didn’t want me to call 911.

Instead the man whisked away the girl from the play area and into a nearby building to wash off her cuts. In the process, he left behind the other child in his care. After a little coaxing, she followed us inside the building, where I deposited her at the reception desk. As the echoing howls subsided in the adjacent restroom, the man and girl emerged.

He had calmed somewhat but the girl was still hyper ventilating and clutching at her right arm and shoulder.  After a quick thanks, the man ducked out of the building and into a waiting car that sped away. I have the feeling that guy was working on his story as they headed toward one very angry/scared mom.

The images of that wailing girl’s twisted body on the ground and the rising panic in the man’s voice as he scurried around like a trapped squirrel are hard to shake. So, too, are the what-if scenarios we’ve run through following our accident.

We were spared. LIfe is good. But it is fragile at these moments,  when powerful jolts snap us out of our zombie states of routine, boredom or simmering anger over a stew of trivial complaints.