A few weeks ago, a three year old child was killed in the town where Marcel grew up. In a freak accident, she was run over by her own mother. While her mom was in the store, the little girl crawled out of her car seat and climbed out of the car. Her mom got back in the car, assumed her daughter was still where she belonged, and backed up – right over her daughter. A simple mistake. She’ll have to live with the consequences of that mistake for the rest of her life.
Today I read about another little three year old girl who went missing from a resort in Portugal. Her parents were dining in a restaurant about 100 yards from the room where they’d left their children sleeping and unattended. They checked on them every half hour, but the last time they checked, the door was open and their three year old was gone. A mistake, the parents say – they made a simple mistake.
In both cases, people have commented about the bad decisions the parents made. Shouldn’t they have been more careful? Couldn’t they have avoided it?
Last night, I made one of those mistakes. We’d parked the car on the side of the road at the soccer field. While I put my purse in the trunk and Marcel retrieved his lawn chair, Maddie asked if she could run to the playground. I said “Sure. Go for it.” I assumed she meant the soccer field, which was on the same side of the street as us. She didn’t. She meant the play structure on the other side of the street. As she darted into the street in front of the oncoming van, I realized my mistake, spun around, shouted, and grabbed her. The van slowed. Nobody got hurt. We were all just a little shaken. A simple mistake.
The difference is, I don’t have to live with the consequences of my mistake. I get to play the “oops – messed up – try again” card. Other than reminding myself to pay a little more attention next time, I get to forget anything ever happened.
I hope the parents of those other two children will find grace in their lives. I hope there will be plenty of other parents around them who will admit that they make mistakes too. I hope that, over time, they will learn how to forgive themselves.