I walked out of the restroom in the Albuquerque airport last night and got whacked in the face with a lizard.
The father was horrified. Not the lizard’s father; the father of the boy who was swinging the lizard by its tail just outside the restroom door. It was a rubber lizard. The tailed stretched easily and the circumference of the swing went much wider than the boy intended.
“I’m sorry Daddy, I didn’t mean to,” said the three-, maybe four-year-old boy as he tried to collect the lizard from midair.
“No worries,” I said more to the mortified father than the boy. “Been there, done that,” I added trying to smile and trying not to touch the spot on my cheek where I was grazed. I did not want the dad to feel worse than he already did.
Parents live with one minor fear and one major fear when they take their young children to crowded venues. The minor fear is that their young child will get lost or, heaven forbid, be taken by a stranger. The major fear is that their child will do something embarrassing that disturbs nearby strangers and, worse yet, cause people to whisper, “They’re bad parents.”
A little bit of vigilance ensures a child’s safety. Parents hold their child’s hand or perhaps grab hold of the collar of their shirt when passing through a thick crowd of people. If the child’s still small enough and the crowd is particularly large, parents pick up their child and hold them close.
The embarrassing moments are more difficult to avert. It can happen at any moment in the blink of an eye. You can be standing in an airport waiting for your wife and daughter to return from the restroom.
Your young son is fidgety. He starts picking things up off the floor. The unknown object is headed for the mouth so you quickly grab it and in its place put a toy in your son’s hand. You look over your shoulder to see if you wife is on her way back… wham.
A passing stranger gets whacked in the face with a flying lizard.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. Sometimes it comes true.
It is great having young children. There also is some relief as they grow older. You are able to put your minor worries aside and relax, at least a little, knowing your children are savvy enough to stay safe even in crowds.
On the other hand, Joe was dancing down the streets in San Francisco while on our August vacation. He did a spin move as we rounded a corner and crashed into two women walking toward us…
Yeah, been there, done that.
Hang in there lizard dad.