Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Curse of the Nurse.

My parents let us use their trailer at the lake for a few days as a vacation. It was fun, except for all the fun parts.

Walking along the docks trying to catch minnows, leaning over the sides with the nets. Thinking about the near drowning kids I see at work. And panicking when Toby manages to pry his hand clear of mine and take off running down the docks.

Catching a painted turtle on a minnow hunt,and while my kids lean in to get a better look at him on the dock, my mind flashing to a nasty turtle bite I've seen.

Being down at the beach and wanting to help build the canals and waterfalls, but scared to get too involved and taking my eyes off them, because I know that even in shallow water kids can drown.

Sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. Holding my breath every time one of the kids gets up to walk around the fire, remembering kids who lost their footing and ended up with burned hands and bums and faces that come into the hospital every summer and are often stuck there until fall, enduring painful dressing changes and skin grafts that never look quite "normal" again.

I'm trapped between wanting my kids to have a wonderful full childhood, packed with memories and experiences, and wanting to lock my children in rooms with padded walls and soft low furniture to keep them safe.

I'm used to the eye rolls and "well you turned out okay" when I make a comment on safety to my parents who often take care of my children. Never mind the fact that my mother did a brief stint as a teenaged candy-striper and saw one unlucky motorcyclist,and spent years ranting to us children that she never wanted us on motorcycles. My husband knows better than to question my judgment, but even he can't understand, because he hasn't seen the horrible life-changing things that can happen in the blink of an eye. Granted, I don't see all the kids who go for a snowmobile ride and come back with smiles and happy memories. I just see the broken limbs, internal injuries, and the families that the ones who aren't going to make it are leaving behind. I have another friend with whom I've worked at the hospital who's now a mom and now getting the eye-rolls as well. So, I'm lucky that I have someone in my life who understands.

So, no, my children aren't allowed outside while the grass is being cut. No, they can't put another log on the fire. No they can't ride in the back of the pick-up truck (even though I did on a busy highway as a teen several times and somehow I "turned out okay"). No, they aren't allowed to play on a trampoline. No, they aren't allowed to skateboard, bike or rollerblade, even for a minute, even on the quietest of streets, unless they have a proper fitting helmet strapped on their head. No, they aren't allowed on an ATV, dirt bike or snowmobile, even to do a quick test drive on an empty back lane. You may find something here unreasonable, and probably things will change as they get older(and more responsible, she says with her fingers crossed), but if everyone saw what I do at work there'd be a whole lot more children walking to school dressed up like hockey goalies.

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