I think paternal instinct is underrated. Mothers are given credit for “the bond” and knowing instinctually when their kids are in trouble, while fathers are relegated to second class parenthood.
I know, I know. Fathers miss out on gestation and the birthing experience, but I’d put my ear for trouble up against any mother’s.
Now Cheryl might say the ear is only effective when the brain maintains an active connection – but I’d rather ignore this inconvenient observation for the moment.
I won’t try to tell you I’m an expert in child behavior but I know my kids. Their cries generally fall into a few common types. (Most of these aged into a fine whine as they got older.)
There’s the exaggerated play cry, the cry for sympathy/attention, the tired cry, the bored cry, the hungry cry, the scared cry, the hurt cry, and the grand-daddy of them all – the panicked, terrified, I’m really hurt bad and I need someone right now cry.
Thankfully, I’ve only heard that last one a handful of times in my life, but last night was one of them. I was enjoying a lazy Sunday evening at home after a busy week, spending a little quality time with my MacBook. I heard a crash. It didn’t raise immediate alarms. I’d need a lot more medication if the sound of stuff colliding/falling/breaking in the house raised my heart rate.
It’s early yet, but I think my kids might be headed towards a career in demolition.
There was a pause, a moment of quiet, that got my attention – not alarmed so much as curious. “I wonder what that was? It did sound kinda big. Is someone trying to conjure a benign explanation?”
Maybe my instincts aren’t so good after all.
That’s when I heard it. It was a rapid fire, panic filled, pained shriek for help… and that’s when my heart stopped. I ran into Adam’s room and found him on the floor, pinned under his dresser, crying out words faster than his breath could sustain. I threw the dresser back, tossed aside the drawers that had spilled out… and Adam popped up into my arms.
My heart started again.
After a good squeeze, a thorough once over, and a trip across the house for some reassurance from mommy that his skin wouldn’t fall off, everyone was ok again.
Except… how did I miss the dresser? When Beth was born it seemed like we bolted everything to the floor, the wall, or both. Now I figure out twelve years later we missed something.
One thing is funny – well sort of. Despite all of the evidence, Adam still won’t admit to climbing on his dresser. He explained what happened to me last night (after everyone had settled down) – and it was like something out of the Warren Commission. Should I be worried the first adjective that came to mind was cagey – and he’s still only four?