From about age 18 months until about age 4 ½, Maya would run without warning. No matter what. You could be holding her hand, carrying her on your hip, even when up on your shoulders, I swear: She’d shimmy out and dash out into who-knows-what in seconds flat.
One of the most humiliating was when she was about 2. We were in Aquababies, a parent-child swim class, at our local gym. I LOVE our gym. But it’s important to note that outside the locker room, most of the walls are glass, even the exterior walls. Currently, there’s a good 25 feet between the changing area of the locker rooms and the outside, glass-walled world. But back when Maya was in her sprint-or-die phase, the locker rooms were under construction. So there was approximately 3 feet between nakedness and glass walls.
Clearly, you can imagine what happens next.
Following Aquababies every week, I would do everything I could to change both me and my toddler out of our swimsuits and into clothing as quickly as possible. But one week, Maya, being the evil-child-genius that she is, chose the exact moment that I had just peeled off my wet swimsuit and was fumbling to get dry undies up my still-damp legs, to run her hiney out of the locker room and into the world of glass walls. And for about 2 seconds, I’m left considering two terrible fates: First, the instinctual response: Run out of the locker room with undies still between your knees, in all your naked glory, into a sea of glass walls, to retrieve your precious child. Never mind all the people you’ll uncomfortably make eye contact with at the gym for the next 6 months who will undoubtedly know what your bum looks like....
Or second, you quickly hike up your undies and throw something on, anything, and run after your babe with your arse covered. By this point, though, Maya is probably already outside, hailing a cab down Foster Ave.
Somehow, I was lucky enough for option 3. The moment Maya decided to run out, a fully clothed woman I had never met looked at me and my nakedness and immediately ran after Maya. She brought her back less than a minute later, as I tried to put something over my lady parts.
It takes a village, y’all.
So why do I mention all this? Because the parental “decisions” we all make every day are often less black-and-white than people — especially nameless, faceless people on social media — think. Those who don’t procreate are so often the first to critique parenting styles.
Considering Maya’s previous penchant for running toward danger, I’m both grateful and amazed nothing terrible ever happened. But something very well could have. Maya was that kid. And I am soooo that parent who looks at her phone for a second while in my child’s presence, or who strikes up a quick “hey, how are you?” conversation with another parent, requiring me to take my eye off my kids for less than 10 seconds. It’s not easy. And yes, in the words of Hyman Roth, “this is the business we have chosen,” so we’re not supposed to complain. But as any parent will tell you, before you have kids, you have no idea. You think you’ve got everything under control. And then...you don’t.