My twins drove their Playschool car off our deck. They went out of my sight for a few moments and the next thing I knew, they were down the four steps off the deck and in the back yard crying. Thankfully they weren’t hurt at all because the car protected them. I’ll never admit it though, and will deny it to anyone who asks. I’m normally a pretty attentive parent, so of course the one minute I let my boys out of my sight, they took off and made me look like a terrible parent. From it though, I learned that no parent is perfect, and things happen. It’s how we respond and learn from the experiences that matters.
My boys love spending time outside. In order to keep them contained and safe, we usually take them on the deck with a baby gate up. What I didn’t realize is that a large plastic car, driven by two toddlers at full speed can easily crash through this gate. It was only recently that they figured out how to get into the car and move it around and that one of them can push the other in it. It would be cute if they didn’t go tearing around like rabid maniacs constantly. At least they learned teamwork.
One Saturday morning, I was outside with them while my wife was busy and supposed to be watching them. The boys happily played with their car and pushed each other around the deck. While the dog distracted me for a few minutes, the boys took off. A few moments, a crash, thud, and two crying boys later, I learned a valuable lesson in keeping an eye on them at all times. I also discovered our baby gate was less secure than I had thought. After picking them up and calming them down, I resolved to be better about watching them, and to make sure that our baby-proofing was actually baby-proof.
No parent is perfect. No matter how attentive or doting a parent is, eventually they will take their eyes off their children for a minute and something could happen. It’s impossible to be completely vigilant 100% of the time. Good parents do their best though, and react quickly if something bad happens. It’s important to remember that sometimes these difficulties can be learning experiences and opportunities for parents to grow as parents along with their children. Learning from situations that don’t go as planned is what separates good parents. It’s how parents react and change that really matters. Scrapes and bruises heal, but lessons learned stay forever.
After this incident, I made sure that the baby gate was properly secured with screws and that the gates at the top of our stairs where an even worse problem could occur was similarly bolted in. I also finally anchored the shelves in their room and got around to using the outlet protectors throughout the house. I know I can’t protect them from every possible scenario, but their wild ride off the deck at least inspired me to take another look around the house. On the one hand, I want them to be safe and secure and protect them from danger, but I also know I can’t do it forever and some risk is a positive thing as it helps them grow. However, there’s a big difference in letting them learn that the oven door is hot and letting them drive off the deck.
I would never tell anyone about the time they drove off because I’m still ashamed of it as a failing as a parent. However, I think it proved to me that no matter what, it’s not possible to be a perfect parent, but accepting this may just help make me a good one. Instead of aiming for perfection, I learned to accept some failings and take lessons from them in order to grow and get better. I also used the opportunity to step back and think about the problem, in this case baby-proofing the house to make sure a similar problem didn’t occur again. I think this is the real lesson learned from their drive, though maybe it will also result in them growing up to be race car drivers.