A few weeks ago we went on a family outing to the blue ridge parkway. I vlogged it, and you can see it here. The sun was shining but it wasn't too hot, the day was beautiful and breezy. Both Reuben and Rebekah were in great moods. Becky slept the whole car ride. I usually have a lot of anxiety about traveling with small kids (this part of the parkway is about 45 min from our home) because of the crying. I can't listen to my child cry in the car. It breaks my heart.
But on this day, she didn't cry. She slept, the toddler slept, and husband and I chatted like we didn't have two kids under 3(ish) and were battling sleep deprivation and life fatigue.
It was a perfect day. Except for the child that almost drowned.
I didn't talk about this in my vlog. Because it was confusing and really really scary. But now I've had a lot of time to think about it and Now I Have Thoughts.
It happened like this.
We had been exploring about 15 minutes, and were walking a small trail that led down to a swimming pond through some stone steps. Reuben was fascinated by the stone steps, and we were fascinated with keeping him from falling into the water.
I was so wrapped in watching Reuben, taking pictures and videos of our time together; I wasn't paying attention to others around me. I had seen enough to ascertain that there were several couples, a biker gang, and a few families also enjoying the balmy summer air. But I hadn't looked closely at anyone.
I heard one of the mothers scream her child's name. She was on the other side of the swimming pond with one of her children (I later learned she had three) and her husband. One of her sons had fallen in the water. They were really far away but they immediately started towards him—he was drowning. He wasn't supposed to be in the water at all, but somehow had fallen or wandered in. He looked to be around 6-7 years old. I was wearing Becky and no help—being farther away. A elderly women on the faux beach close to the drowning boy jumped in the water and grabbed him. I would say everything in the paragraph above happened in less than one minute.
The cry of the mother—that startled me, startled everyone else too. All the families and couples and the biker gang heard it. And we all stood there frozen, watching. I suppose no one knew what to do. It's like we were all collectively holding our breath, waiting on the edge of panic for relief.
I'm glad to say the boy was fine. Once everyone saw that, it's like we all let out our breath together and went back to what we were doing. At least, he seemed fine. I felt like I should go talk to the young mother because I was sure she must be feeling awkward about being the center of attention like that, and I really wanted to tell her about dry drowning if she didn't already know. I waited about ten minutes fuming over what to say and if I really should approach her, but in the end I walked up to talk to her. She seemed really tense and I think she was worried I was going to scold her, but after I asked how her son was and chatted with her a bit as she relaxed. It turned out the elderly lady who had jumped in to grab the son was his grandmother, and she also chatted with me. I mentioned dry drowning, but she already knew about it. I told her she was brave and a good mother and said that scary things happen to everyone, but I can't remember the exact words I said. I just knew I wanted to let her know I cared, and diffuse some of the awkwardness. We had all just stared at her, frozen, until it became apparent her child was okay! In times of stress—I've noticed the majority of people, myself included—freeze. It's odd.
I thought about what happened over and over again for the rest of the day, unable to shake it off. The boy, quietly drowning. Not splashing, not crying for help. The mother's scream when she noticed. The way they started towards him even through they were really far away. The grandmother jumping in even through she was fully clothed. All of us unable to move.
Anyway, I was reminded of that time at the blue ridge parkway when two scary things happened with Reuben this month. One was we lost him in Aldi's. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was very angry with him and with my husband. We were all there—Brian, Rebekah, Reuben and me. Daddy had Reuben in his cart and I was wearing Rebekah. Daddy said Reuben wanted down to go to me (I was waiting for them to restock the gluten free bread) but he didn't tell me! So he let Reuben down out of the cart and presumably Reuben was supposed to run to me. Only, I wasn't even looking for him so I have no idea if he did or not. Brian continued shopping. When I rejoined Brian, I noticed Reuben wasn't with him. Where was he? Brian said he was with me. No, I said. He was in your cart. At this point I was panicking. I couldn't do anything. I told Brian to find him, and he did. He located Reuben a few isles away- he was fine. But he could have been kidnapped, lost or run over! Seriously. We now have a rule that Parent #2 needs to tell Other Parent if switching kids.
The second thing was that Reuben fell. He hasn't fallen off anything since he was around 18m, so I wasn't expecting it. He fell off a table at our house and landed right on his mouth. He really hurt his teeth and gums and it was so stressful. We are still waiting for a dentist appointment to get everything looked at, but I think he will be okay. The stress is more of dealing with the crying upset toddler and the blood and the whining. Oh, the whining.
Why God chose to bless me with a mountain goat for a son, I have no idea. It is a total point of anxiety in our family! Reuben climbs on everything! He does not fall—I mean, since 18 months old. But he has no common sense or self awareness, making my job of keeping him off anything that looks remotely climbable impossible. I am trying to teach him to no avail that he is in control of his body and he can deny his climbing urges. He does not get it. At all. This kid is all idea = action, no forethought or planning! Just like his mama, sadly. But I have thirty years of experience to buffer my whims, and I definitely do not ever feel like climbing on anything. I just also want to do all the ideas that pop into my head right when they happen.
He needs to learn that he does not have to execute every idea that pops into his head!
Anyway, these three lessons have taught me, or shown me, how little control I have. Control as a mother, and control as a citizen of the world. Scary things happen. God is the only one who I can cast my fears on, and put my hope in. Evermore I believe this, especially after recent experiences. God controls life and death. He is the master over our world, even if it is in sin due to our own choices. And he is good.
He is so good.