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Let Ye Who Is Without Sin Throw the First Toddler

Twice.

That’s how often you’ll nearly kill your kid over the course of the court-mandated 18-year sentence you serve as a parent. Accidentally kill, I mean. The number of times you’ll nearly kill your kid on purpose? Typically, too many to count.

But we’re talking accidents here. And, on average, every parent nearly kills his or her kid due to negligence two times. Some, more like five or six. A few weird Zen masters, only once. But everyone nearly kills his or her kid at some point. It’s part of the job.

We don’t like to admit it. Typically, we won’t, unless someone else cops to it first. Then we sheepishly chime in with, “Yeah, I’m astonished the kid survived past age 6.”

I’ve nearly killed my son a good half-dozen times, and those are just the times I noticed my negligence and the danger. I suspect twice that many brushes with danger went obliviously unnoticed, because negligence, by its nature, tends to fail to pay particularly close attention to the scene at hand.

We don’t like to admit it. Typically, we won’t, unless someone else cops to it first. Then we sheepishly chime in with, “Yeah, I’m astonished the kid survived past age 6.”

Drownings: twice. Peanut allergy: thrice. I’d list a few more, but now I’m wondering if this article might inspire my ex to decide I’m unfit to hang out with the boy. She’s quite reasonable when it comes to the kids, but could you blame her?

Yet, she’d be wrong to snag the boy merely because I’ve come so close to snuffing out the sweet little bugger’s life on so many occasions. We parents make the world safer for our kids. But we don’t make it safe.

We can’t, because it isn’t.

When we hear about kids falling prey to the dangers of this world while in the company of their parents, our gut instinct is to say that the parents screwed up. Oftentimes, yeah, they did. But they screwed up in a way that we all do, regularly.

They missed something, just for a moment. That’s it. That’s their sin: a moment focused elsewhere. Kids are highly industrious — one moment is plenty.

If your moment of inattention comes in the back yard, maybe you turn in time to see your kid blowing bubbles while floating a foot beneath the surface staring up at you. Maybe you don’t. But your tragedy (or avoidance) makes no headlines and brings no condemnation. Oftentimes, nobody else even knows.

We blame the parent, because it’s our way of convincing ourselves it can’t happen to us. We’re good parents, and bad stuff doesn’t happen to good parents.

I’d like to think I’m a good father. I’d love to believe I’ll never again nearly kill my kid. And I am convinced that the second doesn’t negate the first. The best of parents can have the worst of moments.

We jump to that conclusion: We blame the parent, because it’s our way of convincing ourselves it can’t happen to us. We’re good parents, and bad stuff doesn’t happen to good parents.

A lie. A comforting lie, but the best lies often are.

Bad stuff happens to good parents. Tragedy doesn’t examine your child-rearing resume and then decide whether to strike. It just strikes.

When it does, we should feel pity and give thanks that it wasn’t us. Instead, we form mobs and spew vitriol.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

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About Jared Kendall

Jared Kendall
A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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