Opinion

A toddler is the fastest most elusive creature there is

A couple of things I have just about given up on. Making people realize that candles are never left unattended unless they are secured in lanterns with glass chimneys and the fastest most elusive creature on earth is a toddler.
I cant recall in my lengthy journalism career how many news stories I have written about fires caused by unattended candles, sometimes with loss of life, and how many toddlers will forever be just a sweet baby picture in a memory book because they escaped scrutiny long enough to drown in a fish pond or run out in the street or behind a backing up car and were killed.
We had another such tragedy the
other day with the loss of a 2 1/2-year-old South Kitsap girl who was found drowned in a water-filled planter pot after she escaped her fathers attention for minutes.
I hate to even write about it, knowing the pain it brings to the parents and other relatives but talking about it may save the life of some other child, if we make an effort to drill into peoples minds what I said above.
The fastest most elusive creature on earth is a toddler.
My God, how many Ive written about. With some Ive had to break the news of the death to other members of the family I called to get information. I remember one grandmother I called and asked if she was so-and-sos grandmother and she said, Yes.
Whats wrong? He drowned in the fishpond, didnt he? I have been afraid of this happening ever since he was born.
A family in the north end lost a little boy when he ran between his home and that of his grandparents next door and fell in an open septic tank hole that had rainwater in the bottom. The family was devastated. Children have drowned in mop buckets and toilets.
Remember the toddler who was being watched by his father out in the parking lot of a grocery store and who crawled away and under a car, which backed out over him? The father was talking with friends and only took his eye off his son for a few minutes but that was long enough.
One minute theyre clutching your knee, the next you hear the screech of brakes as you realize your toddler managed to get outside and flee into traffic.
I read a story in the papers some years ago about a father who so feared losing his son in an accident that he moved the family to the country and built a circular driveway to avoid having to back up and the boy still died under the wheels of his fathers car.
I cannot repeat it often enough. A toddler is the fastest most elusive creature there is, and can be up and gone in the blink of an eye. If you have a toddler and you or anyone else is going to back up a car, do not move one inch unless you can see the toddler being held by someone. Not standing nearby where you can see him, but being held so he cant suddenly dart into your path.
Some little ones also are clever enough that if you start the car and leave it running and the door open while you return to the house for something, the kid can clamber into the front seat and hit the gas pedal, sometimes falling out and being run over. It has happened. I have written about it.
This is such a depressing subject but I dont think we devote enough time to reminding people about the necessity for never letting a toddler out of your sight unless hes asleep in a bed and a bedroom he cant get out of. Even then check periodically for breathing.
Its an enormous responsibility but your reward is seeing him grow up.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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