This was featured in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette today. Just in time for Black Friday!
I’ve found that parenting is a constant series of decisions, from the mundane–chicken fingers or mac-and-cheese?–to the critically important–deciding to instill in your children a set of values, deciding on their education, and how best to keep them safe.
On the important choices, we parents are the decision-makers, but on the momentary selections of life–as with my 2-year-old daughter Chance–the child sets the agenda.
Need to get up and dance to that Beyoncé song? Go right ahead, girl. This moment in the grocery store line is when you need to give me one of your sloppy wet kisses? Why, thank you. Decided to pair your bright yellow flip-flops with your black-and-white-striped pants and purple shirt? On you, baby, it just works.
Then there are hardest decisions a parent will ever have to make. Decisions that no parent ever wants. April 4th, 2012, was the day I had to decide to take my Chance off life support.
Just 24 hours earlier in our home in Conway, Chance and I were laughing and playing in my bedroom. I remember she decided to give me one of her trademark impromptu announcements of affection: “I love you, Momma.”
“I love you too, Chance,” were my last words to her. Chance then joined her brother Brandon in his room to watch TV.
Three minutes later, Brandon ran in crying. I run to Chance. She’s under the dresser, the TV to her side. I remember throwing the dresser aside. I remember picking her up and screaming my baby’s name. She didn’t respond. Neighbors come into the house. We dialed 911. Paramedics had her airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. A whirlwind of family and doctors ensued. And then came the decision.
The doctors told me that she would never be the same. I held my daughter for one last time, sang our song to her, and said goodbye.
Then I made another decision.
I would do everything I can to share Chance’s story. To talk about the dangers of furniture tip-overs in the home. To let parents know that among all the decisions that make up parenting, they have another important decision to make–to install furniture anchors where television and furniture tip-over risks exist.
In response, I’ve become an advocate for the Anchor It! Campaign, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s national public education effort. The campaign outlines the dangers of tip-overs in the home and explains how to prevent these tragedies by safely and easily securing TVs and furniture.
One of the most important times of the year for me to talk to parents about tip-over prevention is the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend. According to the Consumer Technology Association, this weekend’s mega-deals make it the most popular weekend of the year for new television purchases. Studies shows that consumers who purchase new flat-screens typically then relegate their old tube televisions to a bedroom, often on top of a dresser or table.
If they don’t anchor those televisions, and their new flat-screens too, they are unknowingly bringing into their home a serious injury risk for their children.
If you buy a new TV this weekend, or any time of the year, remember that televisions should only be placed on television stands or media centers designed to hold a television. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly secure TVs. Anchor existing furniture with inexpensive anti-tip brackets available at home, hardware or electronics stores, and make sure anti-tip brackets that now come with new furniture are installed right away. Always remove items from the top of TVs and furniture that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys or remote controls. Visit AnchorIt.gov to learn more.
It’s been more than three years, but I think about Chance every single day.
I wonder what she’d be like–would she still like to dance? Would she be sassy like her mom? And I wonder if she’d want me to become an advocate on tip-over prevention, and talk about our story so much.
Knowing her, I think she’d be pushing me to do this and more, to get some attention, so it makes me feel like it’s definitely the right decision. Because she always did get her way.
Keisha Bowles is a mother who now lives with her family and her 10-year-old son Brandon in Marion.
Editorial on 11/27/2015