God was punishing us for taking the kids to a winery. We lost our son for the longest seven minutes of our lives (See “Seven Minutes”); and, as if that wasn’t enough, we narrowly avoided a trip to the hospital.
After a two-hour ride in the minivan, we got to the vineyard’s Key West festival, where we were meeting some friends. The way the festival worked, we were supposed to do a wine tasting and buy a bottle to drink. The kids had been great in the car, but they needed to move around, so I said I’d take them and my husband and our friend Annie went to do a tasting.
I took the kids down to a field by the entrance. Some other kids were playing and I told them to race to the end and back. They ran and my six-year-old daughter easily won, but I was happy that they burned some energy. It was hot that day — but not sweltering — and we sat in the shade for a while. When they got restless, we browsed the vendors. There was a sand art vendor and the kids had fun making a multicolored baseball and a clamshell. Sand art in hand, we headed back to our spot by the band. My husband had set up the chairs and I got some wine and went to chat a little, but just then my three-year-old son kicked off a hardy cry fest.
He came to me and wanted me to hold him, so I put my wine down, picked him up and sat on one of the chairs. He clung to me, screaming and crying. I chugged some wine. I kept asking him what was wrong and he’d say something at the top of his lungs in the middle of a sob and I couldn’t understand him. We thought he was dehydrated so my husband tried to give him water. He refused. We thought he was hungry so my husband got a hot dog, but my son wouldn’t eat. He just kept crying. Fortunately the band and the crowd was so loud that he didn’t disturb anybody, but he just wouldn’t stop. Finally, I understood him saying he wanted me to lay down. I went to our beach chair and started to lay it out when my husband and Annie said they’d take him inside. At that point, he’d been steadily screaming and crying for about fifteen minutes. My husband carried him toward the tasting room and I stayed with my daughter and found my wine.
The three of them were gone a while and when they came back, my son was fine. Our friend explained that she thought he was overheated and just needed to cool down. Turns out she was right. They told me that once they got him into the air conditioning, he calmed down, but first he said he was going to throw up. He didn’t throw up, but he did improve and he was good as new when he came back. He sat down to eat his hot dog and drink his water. And I felt completely incompetent.
How could I have missed that? Why didn’t I think of cooling him down? Why did I rely so much on him telling me what he needed? Because that usually works, right? But not this time. I let him get so overheated that he wanted to vomit. And all he needed was to cool off. My husband didn’t know either. It took our friend, who doesn’t have children, to see the problem.
I’m really grateful that she did know what to do. I just can’t help feeling inadequate as a parent. I’m always supposed to know what my baby needs. I’m his mother. And I’m usually right. But when it came to something that could have gone very bad, very fast, I didn’t know what to do.
I am humbled as a mom. I have to accept that I won’t always know what to do; and I have to listen to suggestions when it comes to my kids. Being their mom doesn’t make me all-knowing, much as I’d like to think it does. I’m just glad someone knew what to do.