Thursday, March 5, 2015

Perfect Parenting

Okay, it's story time. Disclaimer: I am not telling this story to toot my own horn, or to make myself out to be a great person. I do my best to stay away from commenting on society at large, but I just read a story that breaks my heart, and I feel the need to comment with a story of my own.

It was New Year's Eve, 2014, and possibly the coldest day of the winter to date. Hannah had spent the night at Grandma's house, and I needed to go pick her up. I also needed to get a couple of things from the grocery store, since we were having friends over that evening. Andrew and I were in the middle of a social experiment of sorts, trying to determine if it was feasible for us to go down to one vehicle. So, instead of taking my car, Lucy and I walked, and Julia rode in the stroller. The plan was to run our errands and swing back around to my in-laws' house to pick up Hannah and walk home - easy enough, as long as I could put up with the constant complaining from Lucy of how COLD it was, how she couldn't feel her toes, how her hood wouldn't stay up, etc (she would never make it in the mid-west).

 So, there we were walking down Main Street, bundled within an inch of our lives, all three of us California girls regretting the bull-headed principles that had us pounding the pavement instead of riding in comfort, the heater and NPR cranked full blast (well, maybe that last part was just me). That was when I saw him across the street. He was maybe 18-months old, clad in warm clothes and an adorable little Giants cap, and he was trotting happily down the middle of the road. Traffic was clear for the moment, so we high-tailed it to meet him. I walked up to him and said hi in a friendly voice, but he was pretty shy and he took off the way he had come. At this point we were back on the sidewalk, so I just followed him to see where he would go. We went on this way for about 100 feet until we came to a driveway. The little guy darted out, heading toward an apartment building. I had just started after him when his mom came out from around the corner and scooped him up, obviously panicked, scolding him for running away. She didn't see me.

What I did was completely ordinary - if the above-referenced story hadn't reminded me of it, I probably never would have written it down. I've done things like this before, and I'll do them again if need be - it's part of being a responsible citizen in a community. There was no need to get the police involved - I just needed to get him out of the street. The rest of the situation resolved itself. It comes down to a simple thing - I did for someone else what I would want them to do for me, were our situations reversed. My children have gotten away from me on more than one occasion (I'm looking at you, Julia), and I have had friends and strangers both step in the gap for me when that has happened.

In an age of social media, when it is easy to project a semblance of perfection, when we only see what people choose to share, some folks seem to believe that it is possible to be a perfect parent, and not only is it possible, it is preferable. What's more, if we slip up and someone finds out about it, we are deemed unfit to parent. News flash, my friends: despite what you see on Pinterest and Facebook, everyone slips up. Every day, multiple times an hour, I am reminded of how much I need the grace of God when it comes to raising my kids. And when I read stories like the one I referenced earlier, I shake in my boots. I don't fear my kids getting kidnapped, or them choking to death, but a miscarriage of justice caused by overly-zealous busybodies calling the police when my smarty-pants of a toddler escapes the house again? That's terrifying.