It was a scene straight out of the movies. My two-year-old son cries for help from the garage. I drop everything and run to find him. The dramatic irony is killing the audience, as I finally see it.
My son’s shoes are dangling from the garage door.
I am learning from my children that no day is an ordinary day. Inevitably, some surprise will present itself to me, and the response required will be unlike any other I have offered.
On this particular afternoon, I had just put my daughter down for a nap when my son gave me the I-need-to-go-outside eyes. Friends, we have been through this song and dance at least a thousand times. The best way to keep a little boy quiet and stimulated is to take him outside. He was still just long enough for me to secure both shoes on his feet.
Life felt predictable.
Except, of course, I have a son who is a toddler, and he wants to know how everything works. That day his actions seemed to ask, “What will happen if I hold onto the garage door as it is opening?” The truth is, my guard wasn’t up, and I had not prepared myself for a rescue.
I pushed the garage button and went back inside to retrieve my sunglasses, and that is when I heard my child’s cry of terror: “Help me, Mommy!”
With one foot in the garage, I found my son holding onto the metal bar that supports the bottom of our aluminum retractable door. It had opened completely, and our trapeze artist’s impromptu performance lasted for nearly 10 seconds – nine feet in the air.
In a moment that would paralyze most mothers, I only felt indescribable pride, and, as you may expect, incredible relief.
As parents our days are filled with decisions. Sometimes it is very easy to doubt if we have done the “right” things. As I embraced my son that afternoon, I pondered all of the different ways that we have been unknowingly preparing him for that exact circumstance.
The freedom to swing from magnolia tree branches every afternoon.
The jungle gym we purchased for him at Christmas.
The unstructured play that promotes active problem-solving.
It was almost as if the heavens opened and whispered, “Job well done.”
Did I receive a parenting award that day? No, but my son escaped a very dangerous situation unscathed. I am reminded that the seemingly insignificant choices we make for our children matter. And sometimes it takes a really terrifying moment to reassure us that, despite our own insecurities and setbacks, we are teaching our children how to navigate this life.
In this, we will see our kids do more than simply hang on – we will see them fly.