I hesitate writing a post about any of my fears or worries. No one wants to read my whining, I firmly believe. But sometimes, admitting ones faults or fears to the greater world is one of the first steps in correcting the fault or overcoming the fear. And so it goes….
I took my son to a birthday party this afternoon. It was fun. The adults were chatting, the kids were playing. Luke was enjoying himself and getting into the play with everyone, even though he was one of the youngest there. I began to become more comfortable in the surroundings. I met some new people, talked, chatted. And the times in between when I went to check on Luke became more lengthy.
At one point in the conversation, I said, “I wonder where Luke is. I haven’t heard from him in a while. That usually can’t be good.” Some of the parents agreed that quiet means bad and we laughed about our various experiences. “I’m sure he’s fine,” I told myself, and I continued to chat.
But it kept nagging at me, and I decided to look. I went upstairs where a bunch of kids were running around. I looked, and looked — walking into one room with a high bunk bed. “Cindy, (sniff), help me.”
“Luke? Where are you?”
“Help me, Cindy. (sniff)”
I looked up and there he was, stuck up on the top bunk. I have no idea how long he had been there. No more than a few minutes I hope, although the last time I had seen him had been at least 20 minutes prior. I reached up, and he had tears in his eyes. I hugged him and set him down. I asked him if he was OK, and he sniffed, “Yeah.” Then he ran off to play.
I stood there stunned. He had obviously brushed the experience aside, but it clung to me like a wet sweater. I felt awful. Selfish. Egotistical. How could I have let that happen? How long had he been there? I should have checked on him sooner. What if I had waited to check on him even longer? I walked back down stairs (after checking on him a zillion more times in the span of 5 minutes) and felt a burn in the back of my throat like I was about to cry. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked up, just to check that he was still OK. I swallowed. I went back to the adults but checked on Luke much more frequently. Luke was still playing happily with the big kids. It was like nothing had happened.
But it stuck with me. When we arrived home, I immediately “confessed” what had happened to my husband, feeling guilty — like I had shirked my duty as a parent. The memory stung. I wanted to sit Luke down and apologize, but the moment for that had long since passed. Andy tried to bring up the incident later in the evening, when he told Luke that he had had a bunk bed when he was little, and once he fell out. “Bunk beds can be hard to climb out of,” I said. Luke ignored us. We dropped it.
It looks like it was no big deal to my son. I don’t know why it affected me so severely — probably guilt, right? And when he asked me to stay with him as he was trying to fall asleep tonight, instead of telling him no, I did lay down next to him until he fell asleep. Guilt again, I suppose. I wonder how long it will take me to overcome that.