Breakable

The Next Family

By: Danny Thomas

In the nearly five years that we have been parents Jen and I have experienced a number of recalls for products that we use or have used regularly, daily, frequently, with or without our children. Car seats, high chairs, slings, strollers, toy after toy after toy… Some recalls more serious than others, ranging in severity from pinched fingers to suffocation….

Eegawds!

What do we do with this information?

Admittedly, I am a head-in-the-sand kind of person – and really not all that tapped into news or pop culture events, let alone current recall warnings, or serious concerns, or even the latest childcare trend… Yes, I have guilt about this. Luckily, I partnered well; Jen is all up in the parenting discussion groups and knows which water bottle to avoid or what sun block is safest…

I sort of figure I balance those duties out by lots of bike rides, and Lego truck building lessons, and trips to the park… Jesus, if the park gets recalled I’m screwed.

But, when Jen looks up from her computer and tells me that the company that made Wobzilla’s bed –which she slept in nearly 20 hours a day (she was sleeping on us the other four) for the first nine months of her life -has issued a voluntary recall as a result of two deaths that occurred in the bed (during the very same months that our child was sleeping in one)…I don’t know how to process that. Anger, gratitude, remorse, fear, empathy, compassion, guilt, all at once.

It brings to mind those chain emails that occasionally make it around. Generally an Old Timer bemoaning the state of the world today, almost boastful of the fact that they survived without car seats, or even seatbelts, that they lived in a time when it was okay to drink and smoke while you were pregnant and somehow they survived, blah blah blah. I’m sure you know the kind…

There are days when these strike a funny bone for me, but often, I read them and think, “Sure you survived unscathed, but not everyone did, and that’s why we have a seatbelt law now, that’s why there are car seats and why we stopped using iron in paint…” To me, it is insensitive to be boastful about winning the luck of the draw. It’s unsportsmanlike conduct.

What comes next?

We go about our day with faith, trusting all of our stuff, and try to be confident that we have made careful and responsible choices for our family, that we have parented with intention. And the thing is, our kids are going to get hurt no matter what we do, there will never be a recall on the park, or unkind words, or mean friends.

They will still get ear infections that bring on daunting fevers, and scary dreams, and they’ll still barf and skin their knees.

Ultimately my heart goes two ways when I find out that my family remains intact while others have drawn the short straw and faced harsh reality. First, I think of how precious each moment is – that we are all held together, alive, by a very thin thread.   And second, I count my family lucky; thankfully we have the good fortune to all be alive and together and loving each other right now, hugs, hits, hollers and all.

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