Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Scare in the City

Sunday night Peyton met me at Calvary-Saint George's after the service and took the children so I could go to a gathering after where they discuss the intersection of culture, faith, and the arts. Fascinating, yeah? I was exhausted from the day, but excited to go. Peyton still had to twist my arm a little to go. I went and enjoyed it, but an hour later, when the designated time we had said we'd meet arrived (my phone was dead) I was ready to go. It was really, really interesting but I was just tired. I had done transit to both our churches by myself with the kids for the first time that day and it had me physically and emotionally drained.

I stood outside for ten minutes maybe and even though it was a Spring night, the temps were dropping. I was very much relieved when I saw my two tiny people and one big person coming toward me. As they got closer, I realized that AP was wailing. Peyton quickly grabbed my arm and whispered that he was about to tell me something, but that the reason she was crying was because she was afraid to tell me. "Don't overreact" he whispered. I swallowed hard, terrified, and braced myself. My first thought was, "thank God all three of them are standing here". 

"Annie almost got hit by a car."

I swallowed again and grabbed her. I sat her in my lap, whispered to her that she was okay, rubbed her soft hair and stroked her delicate cheeks, and told her over and over that I wasn't mad. We sat on the steps of Calvary-Saint George's for awhile, just like that. Graves said "quiet down, Annie" and we told her it was fine to cry. It's a forever New York memory, I'm sure. 

While we were sitting and hugging and consoling, I got the story from Peyton. Apparently, Annie had been walking/running/dancing a couple of yards ahead of him. 

[When we got here, I noticed that pretty much all kids her age did that. There was no holding hands with kindergarten aged children. I didn't judge them, truly I didn't, but it blew my mind. Well, we soon realized that she quickly picked up on where the crosswalks were and stopped at them on her own accord. She was very observant about traffic across the board. Finally, she's just generally an almost overly cautious child. So, we became those parents. Honestly, we'll probably go back to not making her hold our hand, but I do think we'll stay a little closer to her. For the record, Graves will be in a stroller or a baby carrier until he's fourteen.]

Anyway, they were on a quiet street with little traffic. They were coming up on a parking garage and Peyton called to Annie to stop twice. She didn't hear him and at that point he saw a car about to turn in right as she got close. He YELLED at her to stop and she froze, paralyzed, in the car's headlights. 

It's very easy for me to think "What were we doing wrong?" (I say we because it could have easily been me) and question if we should have ever given her that freedom. Ultimately, I think she was a little too far ahead than she should have been, I think Peyton should have raised his voice sooner, and I think she needs to work on a) not having her little head in the clouds b) staying closer and c) recognizing parking garages like she does crosswalks (our fault for not explaining better). When we discussed it, she said she saw that the bar was down and thought that cars couldn't come out or go in because it was there, but she knew it was a parking garage and we also know she didn't hear Peyton the first two times; she wasn't disobeying him. 

It's also easy for my mind to go the place where I question what the Hell we're even doing here. There is a lot that's hard here, but one of the hardest things for me is the fear for my children's safety. This usually presents more with public transit that with pedestrian/automobile issues, but in both cases it's just different what I have to be vigilant about that I never thought about in Mississippi. 

I will say that I've been surprised by my reaction, or lack of reaction. I held it together so well that night and even in the hours and days following, I haven't gone into that pit I know I would have a few years ago. A lot has changed since then but often it takes something like this to make me fully aware just how much. Something I became aware of this week too, though, is that I really think that it was God's provision for Annie that I'm at the point I am with my anxiety. 

Because she's had a hell of a time processing this. 

It's mainly about how guilty she feels. She got so upset I told Minnie about "the scary thing" and asked her if I ever did anything "bad" when I was little. My mom told her of course, but that it was a mistake and really wasn't her being bad. Then my mom asked her if she thought Graves was being bad when he fell in the lake and she said no, that wasn't like running in front of a parking garage. Then, most heartbreaking of all, she told my mom (and me, multiple times all day) that she was going to cut her hair and wanted us to call her by a different name so we wouldn't know she was the one who did the bad thing. Honestly, I would think she had some major issues, if I hadn't felt/didn't feel things the exact same way she does.

But she's also scared and told me that she wanted to hold both mine and Peyton's hands when we got outside and that we can go to Calvary-Saint George's but not back near that parking garage. 

I say all the time that the hardest part of parenting is the emotional resources it requires. And even with all that this year has required physically from a parenting perspective, even with all Graves requires physically from a parenting perspective, that's still the most exhausting part for me. Especially with her. 

But it's also such an honor and privilege. It's no small thing to me that I get to be the one, the very first one along with Peyton, to walk through the hard things with her. 

I pray so much that God will give me strength for the task at hand. 

1 comment:

Amy said...

first of all, i am SO thankful that she is okay! secondly, SO proud of you for the way you handled it! and thirdly, AP reminds me so much of libbi. libbi feels things very deeply, over analyzes everything, and worries about more than she should. she's always asking me "what if…" questions and coming up with hypothetical scenarios. i struggle with knowing when to push her and when to let her slide. i don't want to trivialize her fears and worries, but i also don't want to feed them. in some ways parenting a child that is so much like me is a blessing because i know, i KNOW what she's going through. but in other ways it's such a challenge because I KNOW what she's going through. you're doing a great job. thanks for sharing your story!