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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Split Second

I will preface this post by saying that this is not the post I thought I'd be writing two days ago, but I got sick of being a self-righteous moron and thought about it. Stop being emotional and think.

My eldest son is 30 years old. Weeks before his second birthday, he had a terrible accident. He could have died. All because I looked away for a split second to put his brother down, before leading him inside.

You see, we lived in a second story apartment. The kids downstairs were playing, riding bikes... being kids. I had spoken with them as I climbed my stairs carrying a baby carried and DJ's hand in my other. As I always did, I told DJ not to move as I unlocked the door. I took half a step inside to put the carrier in and DJ was gone. The kids were screaming that he'd jumped and I looked down to see my baby lying on the concrete.

A split-second was all it took for his small two-year-old body to slip through the rails and he fell onto the ground below. A. SPLIT. SECOND.

I began screaming and ran down the stairs, terrified, not knowing what to do. My neighbor ran outside and I was screaming at her to call 911. Vicky was so wonderful she ran upstairs to get Clint. The ambulance was there almost immediately and we dashed for Texas Children's Hospital. I was so dazed and horrified that I could barely answer the EMT's questions, and I stood in the ER like I was a catatonic escapee from nearby Hermann Hospital's psych ward.

My son had fractured his little skull and had a large blood clot forming that had to be constantly monitored to make sure it didn't put too much pressure on his still developing brain. I think I sleep walked through the entire thing. Parents and in-laws watched Clint, poor baby, while I stayed at the hospital. It was a blur of CT scans and neurological testing but, after a week he got to come home. I had to quit my job because he could not go to daycare and be knocked around. They said he had to stay quiet for at least, 6-9 months, and then they would see.

If you've ever tried to keep a two year old boy quiet and resting for six months, you know why I've blocked those days from my memory.

The point of this story is, I wasn't doing anything wrong. I should have shoved him through the door first, ignoring my burning arms from carrying my butterball around in his yellow carrier. But I wasn't negligent, I wasn't ignoring my kids, I wasn't doing anything wrong. And yet, it still happened.

I am very angry that the Cincinatti Zoo had to destroy a beautiful animal that they shouldn't have had in the first place. From a Facebook post from a woman who was standing there when it happened, it sounds to me as if the mother got caught up in conversation and her four year old boy ran off. Should she have allowed herself to get that distracted in a very crowded zoo? I don't think so, but I'm not a Blackhawk Parent either. She was talking to someone, her child got away from her, and in the way of boys all over the world, he did something he shouldn't have done and was injured because of it.

Thank God he's still alive.

The woman has had death threats, been pilloried online and in the press. But, the fact we all have to remember, especially those of us who have raised children, and especially pre-schoolers, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN in a split second.

Anything. Anything at all. You can take your eyes off the road to change the radio station and hit a mother and her two-year old child walking in a very busy road at 2 AM and kill the child. The knee-jerk response is to say, "WTF was she doing with a baby in the middle of a busy road in the middle of the night?!" and spew outrage. However, it doesn't take one bit out of the pain that she lost her child. She happened to be in illegal immigrant in a part of town packed chock full of them and had gotten off work and was picking her child up from the babysitter and walking back to her apartment. She almost made it.  The man who hit them? He wound up swallowing his pistol because he couldn't deal with it. The mother went back to Mexico, as she no longer had an anchor here.

A split second was all it took to wipe out two lives and change, forever, another. A, Split. Second.

A split second was all it took for my son to slip between the rails of a stairwell and fall ten feet to the concrete below. It still makes me very sick to even think about it, I get that feeling of terror all over again. I could have lost him.

A split second was all it took for that mother in Cincinnati to lose her son in a crowd and he somehow managed to get into a gorilla enclosure. And her son was injured and an innocent, beautiful animal had to be put down to save her son because her attention flickered for a split second. A. Split. Second.

A split second was all it took for a man to take his eyes off the road and run over a two year old girl and kill her. A. Split. Second.

A split second was all it took for that man to put an end to his pain for having taken his eyes off the road. A. Split. Second.

If you're determined to feel outrage, feel outrage of the millions of children who are abused, truly abused, by people who should love, cherish and protect them. Who pay them no attention, don't feed them, barely provide shelter and who hit them without a thought. Spend a split second thinking about those children.

If you want to rail against gorillas in zoos, spend a split second donating some time or money to groups who are trying to get their capture and sale to zoos and circuses outlawed all over the African Continent. Stop going to zoos and circuses. Take a split second and donate to the animal rescues who take in the animals and give them a nice life until they die. Take a split fucking second to realize that if you go to the zoo you're part of the problem.

But stop harassing the mother in Cincinnati. She's got enough on her plate, right now. She needs to be concentrating all of her energy on helping her son get through this. Because her attention was drawn away for a split second and something horrible happened. And now, she gets to spend the rest of her life reliving that moment over and over in her mind whenever she's too tired, or scared, or the next time she looks down and he's not right there.

Horrible, wretched, terrifying things happen in a split second and there is not anything any one of us can do to change that cascade of events when we're looking back. Hating a woman for something every single one of us has done, changes NOTHING.

Change happens in a split second, and yet it changes nothing. Think about that while you're feeling self-righteous.

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