In yoga, during savasana, my instructor doesn’t simply say “relax.” For if she did, I would think, ‘I’m relaxed’ when really, I’m not. Instead she speaks softly, gently, working her way down our bodies, reminding us to ease tension, eventually, everywhere. At the end, at the point I always think, ‘OK, I’m really relaxed now,’ she says, “Now release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.” Sure enough, it’s always there, the last part of me, tense. Often, I’m tense.
After these three days, I’m in dire need of some savasana.
I do my best to keep my children safe. Our kitchen cabinets are locked. Prescription medicine is unreachable. Bookcases are attached to our walls. I long for the day when I can walk up our stairs without stepping over a gate. Guests do not know how to open our toilet lid. And yet, my children still get sick. They still get hurt.
Around 12:30am Saturday, James woke up struggling to breathe. He had no symptoms prior to this–no runny nose, no fever, no cough. I grabbed him out of his crib and ran downstairs, yelling for Andy who was gaming. He couldn’t hear me, because he had headphones on, so I yelled louder and started banging on the wall. This, by the way, is not how to calm a child who is struggling to breathe. While I was yelling and banging and trying not to panic, I thought of croup. Sophie had croup once. She, too, woke up suddenly, in the middle of the night. But she was able to breathe. Her only symptom was the classic, seal-like cough. James, on the other hand, was panicking. It was cold that night, so I took him outside. I was only wearing a T-shirt, but I wasn’t cold. Rather, I was scared. Andy called the pediatrician on call. He suggested 911 but James wasn’t blue. He was just struggling, a lot. I sang “You Are My Sunshine” to him over and over and over while Andy gathered a couple things. And then Andy and James left, to the closest ER.
James is fine. He had an x-ray, which was fine. He was given nebulized epinephrine via an oxygen mask and the respiratory tech (according to Andy) was very impressed with how long James allowed the mask on his face (which is surprising to me, as I can’t get him to keep a hat on for the life of me). He was given an oral steroid. And he had to stay for four hours for observation. During this time he enjoyed juice and drawing all over the sheets and Andy’s shirt with a crayon. He finally fell asleep around 4am, and both he and Andy were home around 5:30am.
I took him to see the pediatrician today. His lungs sounded great. Now he has a runny nose, fever, cough and double ear infection, but he can breathe.
I used to think blood on my children wouldn’t bother me nearly as much as choking or struggling to breathe. For blood can be stopped (most of the time) and smiles come easy, especially with princess Band-Aids. It’s the internal stuff that scares me. But then there was tonight.
Sophie had spilled some paint on the kitchen floor and all day long she wanted to use our Swiffer to clean it up. But the boys and the Swiffer do not mix well. So we told her after we put the boys to bed, she could mop the kitchen. (I know this is a phase but it would be most wonderful if she offered to do this for us 10 years from now.) All day she reminded us. Finally, the boys were in bed and she was delighted, Swiffering. Andy and I were in the living room discussing our kids-asleep evening. I had at least a half hour of freelance work to do. All the rooms downstairs needed cleaned. We wanted to watch an episode of “Breaking Bad.” Etc., Etc. Huge crash.
Sophie was frozen, stunned. She started to take a step toward us when we noticed glass, everywhere. Her feet were bare.
“STOP!” Andy yelled. “DO NOT MOVE.”
She’s not used to yelling, not like that. Now she was scared. And really wanted us. She started to walk. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed her. I saw a drop of blood on her leg, another on her ankle. We had her sit on the window seat. The bottoms of her feet were covered with the tiniest bits of glass. She started sobbing.
I wanted to sob, too.
There were nine glass bowls, nested, on our kitchen counter. We had used the tenth for dinner, and failed to put the remaining nine away. Imagine someone as short as Sophie using something as tall as a Swiffer. Her hands were low on the pole, which meant the rest of it swung carelessly around the kitchen as she worked. Somehow she must have swung that pole right into the nesting bowls, sending all nine of them flying.
We carried her upstairs and made a bath in which we had her sit on a stool in the tub (so she wouldn’t put pressure on her feet). This worked well. There were, amazingly, no cuts on her feet (just bits of glass that needed washed off) and the two small spots of blood on her leg and ankle healed quickly. It could have been much, much worse.
I know I can’t keep my children in a bubble. But I hate not feeling in control. At first, I was so angry with myself for leaving the bowls on the counter. But then, I looked around our house. All our dining room chairs are on top of our dining room table (to keep the boys from climbing up them, then onto the table, then onto the chandelier, which, unfortunately, has happened). All our kitchen chairs are on top of our kitchen table. The piano bench is on a landing of our stairs. Things are gated. Doors are locked. Breakables have been removed. Little CPR pamphlets I picked up from the class we took are scattered about the house. Our smoke detectors work. We had the house tested for mold. There’s only so much one can do.
Still, when things like this happen, and happen one right after another, I feel like I’m failing at my job. I feel tense, all the time. I agree to three books at bedtime instead of two. I’m more lenient with the Halloween candy.
Andy found the entire 11-11-11 thing to be rather silly but still, I made my wish at 11:11am. It was for health. For everyone. For a long, long time.
I suppose now, while no one is crying, I should focus on my health, my tension. And maybe not even yoga. Maybe just savasana. For the entire hour.
I think it would be so funny to have one of those workplace signs in our house, telling all how many days it’s been since our last accident. The thing is, I’m pretty sure, ours would always say “0.”
“The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.” –G.K. Chesterton