When I was child my family was on a vacation. The hotel we stayed at had a pool and my mom, my brother, and little sister and I were all at the pool while my dad took a nap in the hotel room. I was somewhere between the deep and the shallow end swimming around and my brother was diving off the diving boards (they still had those at hotels back them), my mom next to my sister who was floating in an inner tube, she was only around 2 or 3 at the time. I was 9 or ten, and my brother 13 or 14. My sister suddenly slipped through the inner tube and went under water, and could not get her head to surface, my mom who was not much more than an arms length away started screaming for my brother and I to save her. She stood there scream like a mad woman as I attempted to swim over and my brother ran from the diving boards, my brother got their first and grabbed my sister and brought her to the side of the pool. What is funny about this story is my mom could have easily took one step and could have easily grabbed my sister, but instead she panicked and screamed for help. We actually made fun of my poor mom for years after that. I would however learn myself that sometimes as moms we tend to panic before we think.
Fast forward several years and I myself was a young mom of a three and four year old. My daughter was the mos well behaved kid any mother could ever ask for. I could have 10 of her and still breezed through my day. My son however, was a different story. He was always trying to run off when we were in public, and would often attempt to climb out of shopping carts and the stroller all the while laughing at his own antics. He is now 16 and just an awesome kid, but when he was little he used to put me to my paces. It was about this time that I first got my very own PC and at the time we had an extra room that my husband and I used as an office. My daughter’s room was easily seen from this room so it was convenient as well as the kids could play in there and I could easily keep an eye on them while I was on the computer.
The char that I sat on had a small space between the back rest of the chair and the seat. My son was in the room where I was playing, and I got up out of my chair for some reason. My back was literally turned for a couple of seconds when my son decides that it would be a good idea for him to crawl through the space in my chair. Of course he was too big to do so, but he did manage to get his head in, but he could not pull his head back out. So he starts screaming like mad and I attempted to push his head back through to no avail. Now there is something about one’s child screaming bloody murder that will just send a mother in to panic mode. I couldn’t think, there was no logic flowing in to my brain, my heart was raising, I started having a panic attack and all I could think of was to call 911. I explained what happened and the 911 operator had to tell me to calm down.
It seemed like an hour but was probably only about 5 minutes when a fire truck, an ambulance, and police car pulled up to our house. A fireman pulled out a screw driver and had the chair apart in a matter of seconds freeing my son. Meanwhile some neighbors were gathered outside of my house. Including a couple of neighbors that said I should have called them which in hind site I probably should have. The point is I panicked just like my mom had and all my logic went out the door. I took could have easily grabbed a screwdriver, loosened a couple of screws and got my son out out within moments, but I was too busy panicking to think straight.
About a year later I took my kids to the park. There was a plastic tunnel that lead from one of the sides of the play ground equipment to the other. The tunnel had a crack in it, but I didn’t see it. my son however thought it would be a good idea to stick his body through the crack. The weight of his body pushed through the crack easily but it got to his neck it closed up leaving him hanging by his neck in the jagged plastic. Again he started screaming like mad, and the situation was pretty bad. Again my fist instinct was to get help. I looked around and other than a couple of kids and my young daughter there was no one else at the park, I did not have a cell phone on me and the nearest house was to run to with him hanging the way he was. Time was crucial, if he hung there for long he would have strangled. Again I started to have a panic attack, my heart racing like mad, and then I realized I was my son’s only hope. I told my self to get it together and think, and something magical happened when I did this. I actually came up with a solution. Basically I had to grab inside the plastic and pull it down with all my strength so that his neck and head could come through. That is what I did, it took a lot of strength and the jagged plastic cut his little face as he came down, but at least he was out and would not choke to death.
After calming him down my feelings turned to anger because the playground should not have been damaged in such a way that a child could actually choke. Any number of things could have happened kids might have gotten their fingers stuck in there. I called the park district immediately and told them what happened and demand they do something about it right away. They came out and boarded up the tunnel.
What I came away with from the experience that while our first instinct as humans and as parents is to panic when we see someone we love in danger. Panicking however natural never solves anything. I learned that by stepping back and forcing my self to be logical and think that I was able to resolve the situation and save my son myself. If I had stood there and panicked my son would have died. Now whenever I find myself or someone else in any type of dangerous position I force myself to stay calm and to think. There are rarely circumstances that some sort of logical thinking won’t somehow solve the problem. So next time you find yourself or someone you love in a dangerous situation, stay calm and think. It could save a life.