My Arms Aren’t Long Enough
by Shannon Popkin
The more roller coasters my 8-year-old rode during our day at an amusement park, the more he wanted to ride. (Just the opposite was true of me.) On our last ride of the day, he even offered to be the one to ride alone. So we piled in — Cade alone in his seat, and his sister and me in the seat ahead of him.
As our car clanked up the enormous, rather rickety-looking mountain at the beginning of the ride, I could hear Cade behind me, giggling. He thinks the clinking and creaking is funny. I don't.
Then we were off with a big whoosh, followed by a series of dips that made you feel like the coaster was flying up off the tracks. Suddenly, I could hear Cade calling, “Hey, Mom! Hey, Mom!” But we were being jostled abruptly in various directions, and I couldn’t gather enough breathe to answer him.
“Whaaaaaaaaaat?” I shouted, as the coaster took another huge dive.
He yelled, “Mommy, my seat belt is undone and I keep flying up in the air!!” Just then, we went whooshing over another cliff, but my heart sank faster than my stomach. “What?!!” I shrieked. “Cade, what???!” My voice was absorbed by the string of howling people around me, all zipping, plunging and jerking along in a row, high up above the park.
Less than a minute later when the coaster abruptly halted, I whipped around to look at my son. Seeing the horror on my face, he said, “Mom, I know! I kept flying up out of my seat and a couple of times I bumped my head!”
I was dumbfounded. All I could say was, “What??!” The lap bar across his thighs was there, but the seatbelt dangled on either side of him. He had buckled it, but it hadn’t clicked.
I guess my horror stricken face looked funny, because he started to laugh. He giggled, "I just kept praying, 'Dear Lord, please don't let me die!'"
Whenever my kids are involved, I want everything strapped in and locked down. I want to hear the click so I know my children are safe. But then I find out mid-air, or mid-year or mid-life that things are not secure. I realize my kids are out there bobbing around at rocket speed with no restraints! And my arms are gripping my own restraint so hard that I'm not free to pull them to safety. What can I do?
In these moments, I have to do just what Cade did. I have to call out, "Dear Lord, please keep them safe!" And then, I must trust his everlasting arms to do it. Mine just aren't long enough.
Shannon Popkin is a free lance writer and mom to three kids ages 13, 11 and 8.