Parenting is such a challenge, because there is no manual. It's all trial and error, hit or miss. Mostly miss. It's a wonder the human race survives at all.
You'd think by the time I had my third and final child, I'd be a bit more on the ball. These two events make me cringe every time I think about them.
1. My fifth grade son got glasses. When we arrived home, he stepped out of the car and stared out over the neighborhood a long moment. Then, in amazement, he said, "Mom....there are houses down the street."
I looked where he looked. Of course there were houses.
Like a ton of bricks, it hit me. Had this child not been seeing houses? How poor was his eyesight that he didn't see a house? Or two, or three. Fifth grade was clearly too late to realize the child needed glasses.
2. Same child (poor kid.) Senior year of college. He hurt his ankle playing racquetball. It was sore for a few days, then got better. Then, got sore again. Then, got better. Sore, better. Sore, better. This went on for a year. Finally, during a sore period, we went to the doctor, who ordered an MRI. The child had a torn paroneal ligament and needed surgery.
This is a major tendon. It looks like the only thing holding the foot to the leg. I'm sure it's not, but it feels like that in my heart.
After surgery, the doc told me the tendon was shredded like a horse's tail. He followed up with this: "It was the worst tear it could be and still be repairable."
I can't even put into words how terrible I felt. Why had I not taken this child to the doc sooner? Why, why, why? Well, this child doesn't complain. He was away at college and seemed fine. Most of the time. Oh, who knows. I just didn't get it, didn't see it, didn't act.
The doc did offer me this: "Discomfort from this type of injury does come and go, so it's hard to diagnose at times." That helped a bit.
No, it didn't, really. I was the mom, I should take care of my children. To this day, when I see my son's purple Frankenstein scar, I feel about two inches high.
This child, now a young man, doesn't hold his poor eyesight or injuries against me. He's kind and forgiving and just chuckles when I relate these events to others.