Actually it doesn't.
I'm sure you have taught your kids to call 911 in the case of an emergency. Some of you have probably even had "drills" with your little ones. Those drills or discussions were also likely followed by stern warnings that 911 is only for emergencies and not for fun, pretend, or when you are mad that your little sister took your doll (even if it is your favorite doll).
And how did you define emergency? My conversations with Miss B usually used the scenario of the adult in charge of her being unconscious. Surely, if the adult in charge were seriously ill or injured they would tell her to call 911, wouldn't they?
Turns out, they wouldn't.
Mid-September we had an incident involving my dad, known here and to others as Papaw. Papaw was all set to watch Miss B, as school had not yet started for the year. Usually whenever this scenario takes place I walk Miss B in the house and give any last minute info to my dad. But this time Sister Goldenhair was having a rough morning. She was very upset that she wouldn't be left with Papaw too. She was already crying when I pulled into the driveway.
I told Miss B to explain to Papaw why I couldn't come in with her that morning. I knew SG would never stay in the car without having conniptions nor would I ever get her back in the carseat if I took her inside. Miss B got out of the car and approached the house. I backed out of the driveway and could see into the living room as Miss B went inside. I saw her walking around as if looking for Papaw, before she went into the kitchen. All seemed well, so I drove away.
Ah, Gentle Reader, I was wrong.
Several hours later, as I was busy at work, I received a call from my mom. She said that she and Miss B were in the Emergency Room with Papaw.
Apparently when Miss B went into my parent's house, she found my dad on the floor. He had fallen earlier that morning. Miss B ran outside to get me, but I was just turning the corner. She went back inside and "helped" Papaw get up. She helped him to the couch, where he collapsed again. He was conscious the whole time. She fetched him drinks and covered him with a blanket. Finally he asked her to get the phone when he realized he could not stand himself up again.
If you're thinking this is where he comes to his senses and calls 911, you're wrong.
He called a neighbor to help him up (so he could get to the bathroom). The neighbors stayed for a few minutes then went home. The neighbor called my mom at work (ironically for the very hospital my dad would soon visit). He told her that dad had fallen and wasn't making a lot of sense when he talked. He thought she might want to take him to the doctor or ER. My mom asked about Miss B and was assured that she was fine.
Shortly thereafter, I received my phone call.
Parents and caretakers, please learn from my mistakes!
1. Talk to your kids about appropriate use of 911. I did this, but not extensively enough. Miss B was worried about Papaw, but she never thought about calling 911 because he was conscious and telling her what to do. This is a real tough one to explain to a kid. She knows now that she can go to another room and call for help if she is worried.
2. You always leave contact numbers for your caregiver, but give a copy to your kids. Miss B didn't know where the numbers were posted at Granny and Papaw's house. So she couldn't call me or Granny at work. My cell phone is also programmed with speed dial. Miss B knows that #4 calls Mimi, #5 calls Granny and Papaw (I have also programmed Woody's speed dial with the same numbers). Should they be with us, they can easily call someone familiar in case they are worried.
3. Men, we know you're tough. Please know your limits, especially when you're with children. My dad has always been a tough guy. He doesn't whine when he's sick (nor does he linger). He's the kind of guy who always had some sort of blister, burn, or cut on his hands, but never seemed to notice (deep down I think he believes that builds character). He worked in the building trades and was hard working and tough. It's hard for him to reconcile himself with a body that can no longer keep up. Had he been willing to ask for help, he could have been treated sooner (and Miss B might have missed this episode all together). This can apply to women too. Suck it up, people! Is it so bad to be human?
4. Understand that you are not able to forsee every negative possibility. This is totally a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but I am working on it. I try to prepare the kids for everything, but I know that I can't. This all happened about 3 months ago, and I'm finally able to not beat myself up over everything. If only I had gone inside! If only I had drilled Miss B on emergency situations more often! If only I had tatooed her with my office phone number! If only... Yeah, I can play this game all day long. All night too. Luckily, everything turned out well, or I would still be playing the blame indywriter game.
5. Sometimes all's well that ends well. This is closely related to number 4, but some things belong in the past. Use what you learned and move forward. Should you be more cautious, perhaps. But be sure that your child is not living with the event as a daily presence. Yes, this all freaked me out quite a lot. But I never shared the totality of my fears with Miss B. Have I talked to her about calling for help? Yes. Have I told her about all the worst case scenario stuff? No way! She is still a kid and while she should be educated, she doesn't need the bejeebers scared out of her. I want her to live with joy and awareness, not fear and trepidation.
And all was well in the end. Papaw is diabetic and has trouble with his legs. It turns out he had an infection in his bad leg and was running a high fever. He had also been off his oxygen for awhile, so that didn't help matters. He spent a few days in the hospital and hasn't had any problems since that day.