Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why I'm Weird (And It's Not My Mom's Fault)

When I was a baby, my mother locked me in the car. No, she wasn't abusive. I may be unbalanced sometimes, but that's not her fault! She just got stuck with a weird kid.

The story, as I remember it, goes like this:

She and a friend had gone grocery shopping together for a dinner get together. They were unloading the groceries from the back seat when somehow, the door ended up closing. Locked. With me still sleeping in my car seat. And the keys still inside. Oh, and by the way, it was definitely summertime. In Georgia. (I learned on the radio this month that inside a car with no A/C, the temperature gets as high as 140 degrees in about half an hour. Scary.)

My mother, understandably, was frantic. She called my father, he rushed home from work, and they got me out of the car with no ill effects. Apparently, I slept through the whole thing.

I don't know a lot of the details of this story. It's not one that gets told a lot. I'm sure my mother considers it one of her failing moments as a mother and would prefer not to talk about it.

I considered the full implications of the situation for the first time today when my Fiction Workshop professor said something about asking our parents for stories about our childhood for writing inspiration. I imagined what it must have felt like to stand in the sweltering July heat, able to see baby!me, but unable to help me. I imagined the fear that must have grown exponentially with every minute that my father took to get home with the spare keys. And how much worse must it have been for baby!me to be asleep, utterly still and quiet? Screaming and crying would have been horrible to watch, but babies die locked in hot cars. I'd rather see a screaming child in that situation than one that isn't moving or giving any sign of life.

I am realizing, slowly, that I might one day turn out to be the world's most paranoid, nervous mother. Or perhaps just the weirdest. I mean, who wants to see their baby crying?

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