couples

How a bindi patch saved my son


“We all make mistakes”.

Yes, apparently that’s everyone but ME. I don’t make mistakes.

Recently, we had our own little scare/ parenting fail that did, and continues to, bring me to tears at the mere thought. My two cherubs are being raised with a good balance of helicopter parenting and the freedom to learn and work things out for themselves. For example, Mr 20 months can climb all sorts of play equipment (as long as we’re there with arms at the ready should he suddenly lose balance) and, because he was given the opportunity and freedom to practice, he has, for a long time, been able to confidently seat himself on the swings in our backyard and hold on well while being pushed.

When it comes to safety and/ or possible dangers or threats, I’m super vigilant. Maybe I was/am slightly OTT but, hey, my kids are the most precious things in the world to me, so why wouldn’t I want to take every step to ensure their safety/health?! Apparently, when I was a toddler back in the 80’s, I managed to let myself out of the house early one morning and made my way next door – wearing only a nappy – where I let myself in to the neighbour's house as an uninvited breakfast guest (leaving a trail of muddy footprints) before being retrieved by my mum.

Recently, in the countdown to our twins’ arrival, hubby and I decided to knuckle down and finalise some jobs on our to do list. Hubby had just finished a midnight-9am shift, was still unwell after having been off sick, and was focused on vacuuming out the car and installing the newborn capsules for the twins. The car motor was on and the aircon was cranking.

As the motor was on, the one-sided garage door (open-ended carport the other side) was opened slightly, to allow for any fumes to escape/fresh air to circulate. Mr 20 months had been swapping from inside and out and wanted to be out with daddy, so I called out to hubby who - I thought - acknowledged li'l man was to be in his presence. Hubby was busy vacuuming the car and I watched as Mr 20 months toddled to the car to be with him.

I popped inside and Miss 3 and I put on another load of washing. I went back outside to check on hubby’s progress and asked hubby where Mr 20 months was. Before he even replied, I immediately ran out the front, knowing that the garage was open and our little adventurer must have escaped. I screamed at hubby to check our backyard and hoped our son was just playing on the swings as he usually is.I ran out onto the middle of our little cul-de-sac and called out to my precious boy while hoping hubby would yell out that I was overreacting and that our son was happily playing in the backyard like usual.But no.

As I frantically waddled up the street, I noticed, about four houses up, a lady standing on her front lawn, holding our precious son on her hip. She saw/ heard me burst into tears as I started waddling to her at a record pace to scoop my son from the safety of her arms.

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I was so relieved, but also extremely upset and embarrassed that a momentary act of complacency could've caused our son harm.

The lady said she heard him at the front of her place where he stayed put (probably frightened of getting more prickly things in his tender feet). Thank god for bindis.

Between my tears and attempts to stop myself from breaking down into a full on sob, Mr 20 months was back in my arms and I kissed him repeatedly, while managing to, only just, get the words out to thank the kind neighbour.

Hubby had, by that stage, realised our son was not in our backyard and had raced down the road to be reunited with our baby. As we walked back to our home, and promptly shut the garage (!) and turned off the car motor, the ‘what ifs’ started flowing. And I still can't get the whole thing out of my head.

- What if he made it to the end of the street (two more houses) where the road is hilly, there's a bend, and a motorist simply would not see him?
- What if a car was unknowingly reversing out of their driveway while our lil adventurer was toddling along our usually-quiet street?
- What if our elderly neighbour, who arrived home pulling into their driveway just moments later, hit him at that moment he stepped away from the kerb?
- What if he made it into someone's backyard and they had a dangerous dog/ equipment within reach?

This incident was a heart breaking wake up call. Just when you think you’ve got it all covered, something like this happens to remind you... YOU DON’T. Hubby and I usually communicate well:
"Have you got Miss 3?"
"Yes" (always making sure to get a response so we know who's in charge).
But this time, our usually fail-proof process FAILED. Thank goodness our son is OK.

Just days before this incident, I stumbled across a blog where a grieving mother recounted her last day with her little toddler who was killed in an unidentified accident (at home). And days before that, was brought to tears when I heard the story about the boy, a similar age to my son, who was tragically hit by a garbage truck. My heart ached, and still does, for those families who have lost their precious angels. And to think, that in an instant, something just as tragic could have happened to us just makes my heart stop.

Miss 3 has even asked me a few times, ‘’Mummy why were you so sad when ‘Mr 20 months’ went for a walk without holding anyone's hand?’’ I know it may all sound overly dramatic. But how can you ignore the what ifs, when they were real possibilities? Thank goodness our precious boy is OK.

There’s no room for complacency. I'm back to being a helicopter mum.

What advice to you have for keeping children safe at home?