Boots breaks in the baby-sitter
"I'm an awful baby-sitter," he said forlornly. "I can't believe I let that happen."
"No, C, you're not," I said. "Accidents happen, particularly when kids are tired and cranky."
And accidents I learned long ago to forgive. Expect, even, unless tote your kids around in Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costumes.
What I can't forgive, though, are sitters who delay hours in calling me and then can't tell me why my kid wound up in the emergency room. "I don't know," she shrugged. "He just turned blue." I can tell you, though, that that particular sitter's observation skills never were challenged again. Not with my kids, at least.
C, though, could recount ever agonizing minute. Big Guy running on a tread mill. Boots reaching out to try to stop the belt from turning. Boots not listening when C told him to get away and a split second later trapping his hand between a bracket and the belt.
It was a pretty nasty case of treadmill burn. Boots cried. C grimaced repeatedly.
It was partly my fault, too. My hair appointment had lasted longer than I thought it would, which in turn delayed the Easter bunny errands. C had called about a half hour before the accident and asked what to feed Big Guy - I hadn't expected to be gone long enough for them to need lunch.
I could hear Boots fussing mildly in the background as the clock closed in on nap time and his limit of cheerful listening. He hit that limit not long after I hung up with C.
"I'm so sorry," he said again. "I should have been watching better."
Oh, don't even go there, I told him, listing a series of goofy accidents that happened to me when I was a kid. I'm a klutz so the list was long - a busted chin from running through the kitchen in my socks, a slashed wrist from trying to stop a glass door from closing, broken toes from tripping over couches.
He laughed and remembered his own series of childhood mishaps that his mom couldn't have prevented short of forcing him to wear body armor.
When I said I was taking Boots to the doctor to make sure nothing was broken, C insisted on tagging along.
"You don't have to," I said. "It could be a pretty long wait."
"I want to. This is my responsibility."
I knew then that I'd let C baby-sit the guys any time, any place - once C's over the trauma, that is. Seeing a teen-ager stand up and take responsibility that way told me he's actually more of an adult that some people thrice his age. And he's the kind of adult I want the guys to be when they grow up.
The mark of maturity is not how you handle the good times, but how you react to the bad. C reacted by doing the right thing - owned up to it, getting help and offering help.
The X-rays were clear, and we left the doctor's office with an antibiotic cream, sterile pads and tape. Boots was even smiling thanks to a new stash of stickers. "See?" I told C. "He's going to be fine."
And so are you, I thought.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.