Written By: Andrea Angileri
The kids loaded up on the green dragon rollercoaster as they do every summer in every state across the U.S. Some bravely sit in the front, some timidly anticipating the whip of the tails end. I pull out my white iPhone to take a picture, but quickly shrink back as the parents on either side of me also take out their white iPhones. The ‘Look at me while I parent’ social media generation is irritation, yet I am completely absorbed in it. It was then that I notice two boys, one about 5, but the other looking to be on the shy side of 2. Instantly, I remember the loads of information about Shaken Baby Syndrome that I’ve stored in my child development mental database. “Symptoms might not show until later childhood”…”Can happen during playful moments”…”Skull and brain collide”… Some part of me shakes my head, the mom doesn’t realize this, she is smiling ear to ear at her boys…about to take off on their brain jiggling adventure. I’m one of the most laidback parents that I know, yet…in that moment. I was judgmental.
The children had a fun ride, no crying, just smiles. They unloaded the rollercoaster and headed off to other fair things. After each ride, each one of my children would emerge, completely disoriented on which direction I was anxiously awaiting. It was not more than 10 minutes later that I saw it. A mother with tears running down her blotchy face running to a small wandering toddler. It was evident in that moment what had happened. The child had gotten lost. For a minute, for a second…seemingly for an eternity. The mother picked up her son and held him in a close embrace. My fair judgment had completely subsided. It was the same family. I went over to her and gave her a hug. I told her that I saw what had just happened and that my heart goes out to her…it has happened to all of us. In that moment…compassion. I realized and continue to realize that intelligent parenting decisions and common sense have not always lined up in my own life…I have made my share of mistakes. The tipping car seat, the procrastinated light switch plate replacement, the heavy blanket incident, the ‘Daughter Driveway Faceplant’ , the ‘Spacing out watching ‘Lost’ while my son climbs out of the bathtub to retrieve the plug’ incident, the ‘Dodging my daughter who then slammed into the corner of the end table’ incident and other sometimes ridiculous…other times scary blind eye moments that I store in my parent insecurity knapsack. Somewhere, a mother mourns a mistake she made. An accident….a blind eye moment…a life-changing event. My heart goes out to that mother and what she has to endure. For the rest of us, we continue on with parenthood…sometimes light-footed…sometimes heavy-hearted…always reminded.