Friday, July 11, 2008

The blunderings of a frazzled dad

It all began when Pa rushed out the door the other day, late for work and managing only hurried goodbyes to Mum and Sonny. Maybe that left him struggling to collect himself, because the morning soon yielded two comical missteps.

Incident #1: At the foot of our condo, a small minibus had been idling, waiting to pick up young 'uns and ferry them to a nearby child-care centre. Along came Pa, who - to the consternation of all and amusement of some - scuttled aboard, parking himself on one of the benches. Five or six little faces looked at him, too surprised to say anything. It took him a good minute to realise that something wasn't quite right.

Incident #2: He got it right the next time - and our shuttle bus deposited Pa at the train station without further incident. 15 minutes later, he was again scurrying along, not far from his workplace. But when his foot came down on a drain covering, it gave way and slid aside. "It was probably not replaced properly by the maintenance crew," was Pa's pained explanation to Mum later that day. Whether this was the case or not, his leg certainly shot through with such force that - even though Pa was wearing trousers - the nasty scrape drew blood.

The comparison: And therein lay the difference between the two mishaps - though both were probably partly attributable to that well-known medical condition, Flustered Parent Syndrome. With the wrong-bus encounter, no serious consequences could really be imagined. Beyond, of course, wounded pride. But the business with the drain might easily have turned tragic. Given how deep the drain was and the heaviness of the drain covering, Pa figures that a broken leg would not have been the worst possible scenario.

The further thought: There are obvious lessons to be drawn - that one ought always to be on guard, to be aware of one's surroundings. But these occasion a further thought that is more relevant to us: It's difficult enough to keep oneself out of trouble, especially if one is by inclination a bit of a stumblebum. How much more onerous would it be to maintain that level of vigilance as caregivers of a child? Once Sonny is able to crawl, and climb, and pop any old random thing into his mouth, it's always possible that his next silly exploit could be fraught with danger. A moment's parental lapse might be punished by tragedy. Whether or not we muddle through, then, is partly something that Luck may help determine.

Still, careful parenting can give Luck a nudge or two. Just like getting on the right bus, for instance, makes it likelier that you'll get to where you hope to go.


Ruth said...

I think you are so right--although you can't protect your child from everything, at least you can feel like you've done everything in your power.
A tired pa hopping on the bus with a bunch of kids would make a great scene in a movie, don't you think?

Cloudsters said...

Heh heh, and who'd play Pa in the movie, Ruth?

Ruth said...

I've been mulling this over for a long time, without coming up with anything great. It has to be someone who can get frazzled but still master the understated reaction to realizing he's on the wrong bus.
Do you have any ideas?

Cloudsters said...

Hmm, someone with deadpan comic chops, then. But low-rent, if we're going to be realistic about the budget we're going to command.

Wonder who's a B-movie equivalent to Tom Hanks...