Have you ever experienced sheer panic? Like when you knock a knife off the kitchen counter and you have a split second when you have no idea if it’s going to land on your foot? Or when you’re due at an important meeting and you wake up relaxed and content but then realise that you forgot to set an alarm and are now severely late?
I’ve had a few of these heart-stopping/heart-racing moments recently.
One was last week. My daughter was riding her pink, cupcake-decorated bike with stabilisers around what we like to call ‘the racetrack’ (square-shaped pathway in our estate). Stabilisers are sneaky little things because they quickly make a young child feel like they’re nailing riding a bike.
Anyway, she was tearing around the racetrack at an outrageously inappropriate speed (my husband reckoned she could have easily and safely gone faster). It was quite sweet to watch, through the gaps between my fingers, as she often carries a soft toy in a little seat behind her. Less sweet when the cuddly fox got thrown out and run over though. Roadkill.
As well as going as fast as her little legs will allow, our daughter likes to practice parking her bike and she suddenly decided to do this ON THE EDGE OF A STEEP VERGE. Again, my husband might retell this story using language such as ‘gentle ramp’ but I haven’t seen him bolt as quickly as he did when she applied the brakes ever so slightly too late. He didn’t get to her in time… and all I saw from my frozen position of panic was her disappear down the side of this urban mountain and hurtle towards a brick wall and a carpet of concrete.
By some impressive miracle, she held the bike steady and even managed to slow herself down. She was not the slightest bit bothered and half of me was incredibly proud and half completely infuriated. She was wholly oblivious to how close we had just come to a hospital trip and seemed to have an entire absence of danger awareness. Part of me wanted to shake her and scream “you nearly died!!!” but, on reflection, that probably wouldn’t have been helpful. Or accurate.
I was also at a loss as to how to deal with the shock of adrenaline that had just shot through my body. Once I had regained movement from my frozen position, I turned to my husband and burst into hysterical laughter. I had to turn my back on the situation so that my three year old didn’t interpret this reaction to her unintentional stunt as a clever joke that she would try to repeat anytime soon.
Needless to say, as uncool as she might think it, she will be wearing that helmet until the day she leaves home. Bike. Scooter. Sitting on a bus. I don’t care.