Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Accidents Do Happen"

"Just an accident waiting to happen." "That's why they call them accidents." "Don't learn safety by accident." "It appears to be a very tragic accident."

We all have accidents ranging from the very serious to the very slight. Les' December automobile accident comes to mind as does Kathryn's bruised elbow last week at Annapolis.
There was a reason Mom punished Betty and me for playing in the water tank - she was afraid of an accidental drowning.
I was raised by a woman who not only saw the potential for danger in the most everyday situations, she constantly reminded us of those possibilities. "Don't run with a pencil (scissors, arrow, stick, etc.) in your hand. If you fall, you could put your eye out." "Look both ways before crossing the street." "Keep both hands on the steering wheel." "Look before you leap."

I don't think I was quite as strict with my children, but I know I did/do possess many of the same worries my Mom had. I, too, believe in being careful. And while an accident is described as an unforeseen or unplanned happening, I do believe carelessness can lead to accidents. (Talking on a cell phone and/or texting, while driving, head the top of my list.)

I was involved in a (thankfully) minor accident a couple weeks ago. It left me shaken and teary. It really wasn't my fault, although I might have been going a bit too fast at the time.

I was approaching a blind corner. There weren't any stop signs. A little boy about three years old ran out in front of me. I tried to stop but my grocery cart bumped him and knocked him down. He began crying as his father helped him up. "See what happens? I told you not to run in the store." the dad was saying. While I was saying, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Is he all right?" The parents assured me he was o.k. and that it was his fault, but I couldn't help the tears that sprang to my eyes. It took awhile for me to calm down.

I was reminded of the grocery store incident this morning when I read about a 3-year old Des Moines boy injured Sunday when he ran into the street and was struck by a car. Luckily after a trip to the hospital he was treated and released. I cannot even imagine how I would deal with hitting a child while driving a car - bumping one with a grocery cart was scary enough.

There is a reason I always say, "drive carefully" or "have a safe trip" when saying goodbye to friends and family as they leave - it is my way of guarding them against an accident, as though my invocations can somehow protect them.

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