Natalie would never hurt anyone intentionally, but with her lack of impulse control, stuff happens.
As often as possible, I used respite hours or hired a babysitter to watch Natalie so I could attend, and actually attend to, Aaron’s Little League games this summer. Being able to spend time focused on Aaron is one of my main goals for respite services, and I loved doing so. (He looks SO cute in his uniform!) I only missed one game all season.
Nat came to four or five games. Where Nat goes, her attention deficit disorder follows, so there was bound to be at least one ADHD incident. Of course, there were the typical small problems; the struggle to keep her from invading the dugout, the shushing when she repeatedly tried to get Aaron’s attention when he was up to bat or in the field. And, of course, I tried to stop her from yelling “I love you Zach!” to Aaron’s best friend while he was pitching. Those behaviors, while they mortify Aaron, aren’t terribly serious. Unfortunately, Natalie instigated one ADHD incident of the serious type. Now, Natalie would never hurt anyone intentionally, but with her lack of impulse control, her disinclination to stop and think, stuff happens. Know what I mean, parents?
On this particular evening, Don and I probably got a little overconfident. As we sat and watched the game, Nat played calmly and quietly with two little girls, the youngest two children of Aaron’s Coach Snyder and his wife, Angela.
“Who is that child?” Don asked, referring not to her playmates, but to Natalie. Natalie’s behavior--sitting still, playing quietly--was uncharacteristic.
“I have no idea,” I said. We were both amazed.
Eventually, the girls’ older brother took them to the children’s play area. Nat went, too.
A few minutes later, a grandmotherly woman hurried back, cradling the youngest girl, who was crying. The girl’s mom, Angela, rushed to claim her.
“She fell off the slide, and hit her head--hard. She seemed disoriented when she got up,” the woman reported.
“I hope Natalie didn’t push her,” I whispered to Don, only half kidding.
A minute later, Nat comes to me, looking worried. “I dropped her,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to! I was holding her...and then I wasn’t.”
She was mortified. Afraid the little girl was really hurt. Afraid her new friend, and her mother, would be mad at her. We approached Angela once the little girl calmed down. I spoke, apologizing and expressing our concern, while Natalie clung to me.
As we walked to our car after the game, we passed the play area, and Nat showed me what happened. She dropped the two-year-old from a height of about six feet. She landed face-first on the ground, hitting her head on a metal foothold as she fell.
Remember how Don and I had mused, “Who’s that child?” as Natalie played calmly and quietly? This child I recognized. This was our Natalie.
Natalie loves to play with younger kids, and as I said, she would never intentionally hurt a child. But she’s driven to pick them up and carry them around. When she plays with four-year-old William, a neighbor, she tries to direct his every movement. We’re constantly reminding her, “Put him down. Let him walk by himself.” So, I could just picture her holding this two-year-old girl, and then losing her grip. The girl falling, hitting her head, landing on her face.
There was another game the following morning. I checked with Angela, and the little girl was fine. Not even a bruise to show for her fall. I think we have the fact that this is Angela’s fourth child to thank for her calmness, her quickness to forgive Natalie for her mistake.
Regardless of intent, ADHD impulses can be dangerous. I am so, so relieved that in this case, Natalie’s impulse to pick up and hold younger children didn’t cause any lasting harm to her sweet two-year-old playmate.