A few weeks ago, SMB reposted a story about a Louisiana mother who publicly confessed she and her husband simply “forgot my kid in the car” while they went shopping at Home Depot.
While most people initially react in shock and disgust with an attitude of how could they, I immediately respond with – “It can happen.” Being a parent does not excuse us from being humans and making mistakes. We contend with fatigue, stress, postpartum issues, circumstances beyond our control and human nature. We are imperfect beings trying to create a perfect world for ourselves and families. Close calls like these do occur, especially while raising kids. It is how we respond, that makes us better in our jobs. The Baton Rouge woman decided that if telling her story to the world could “save a child’s life,” just one life, then it was worth it to reveal her humbling tale. Likewise, I hope to join this mission of sharing stories to save lives and retell one of my own. Here goes…
Babies and strollers go hand in hand. Even if you are part of the self-proclaimed baby carrying group, I bet there is still a stroller lurking in your car or closet at home. You might have even constructed the contraption yourself from the millions of pieces out of the box, a Philip’s screw driver in hand, and a huge basketball around your front. Strollers are meant to be useful, helpful, and safe.
Or, ARE they?
As most stories begin, it was a bright and sunny day… in October in Arizona. My older three kids arrived at school on time. There stood four open hours between myself and pick-up. The birds sang their joyous melodies and the sun beamed brightly inviting me to join them outside for an adventure on the green-belt path. I merrily strolled out the front door with my three-month old daughter and a family friend’s three-year-old son buckled snugly into our navy blue, double, B.O.B. stroller. Snacks, hats, water bottles, and crackers for feeding the ducks filled all possible storage compartments on that ride. The cute toe-headed boy I agreed to watch for the week, while his parent’s visited the country they were to become missionaries in, held my homemade, black-inked, map of our route to the nearby lake. He would navigate us to the duck feeding area so I could capture pictures to send his parents. The day promised to be perfect.
After ten minutes, he found the X on the map. We arrived at the familiar group of brown, white and green feathered birds. I took the stroller off the paved path. I faced it towards the water on the grass, locked the parking brake, unlatched his 5 point harness, lifted him out, and left my daughter buckled inside to watch the coming feeding frenzy below. The young lad giggled, tossed the crackers, crumbled them into tiny pieces, and danced as the birds teased to tickle his toes with their beaks as they feasted. I snapped my pictures. It put a smile on my heart. He enjoyed this success.
He and I walked down the path pushing the baby in the stroller with home in mind. As we approached a trash can on the right, he informed me he needed to throw his snack wrapper away. What a good little boy! I told him to go ahead. He dashed up to it and attempted it by himself. Unfortunately, his tiny hands couldn’t push the flap in. I walked the stroller up to the waste basket, took my hands off, and turned to the right to help him. He smiled and said “thank you.” As I reached around for the stroller again, instant panic aroused. The B.O.B., which a second earlier sat right next to me in the middle of the flat, level concrete path, was rolling head first down hill towards the lake with my little, baby girl buckled inside it.
It only took a second but it seemed like an eternity. I booked it down there, jumped into the water, and scooped her out of the sinking ship. She couldn’t even sit up fully yet, let alone swim. My poor daughter and her wheeled-chariot were full of water. What in the world did I just do?
It can and it does happen. How? I now know my humanity. I did not heed the warning posted in the instruction manual or on the stroller:
ALWAYS USE WRIST SAFETY STRAP
You might not think it can happen to you but far too often it can, will, or does. Just last year an Arizona mother lost her twin boys in a similar situation to mine. I get chills just thinking how lucky I truly am that my daughter survived and did not aspirate water. Please, please, please read and use the warnings on the strollers. Hopefully, this story, and ones other brave individuals are willing to share, will save lives.