A mothers terrified shriek alerted us to the commotion at the snack stand. I recognized the absolute fear and panic in her cry. An otherwise beautiful morning at the park immediately had become someones worst fear. Anyone within 50 feet had heard her scream and that was nothing compared to the sounds coming from the back of the catering truck. Instinctively I knew she was the mother of whomever was wailing by the way her hands shook as she shielded her face, by how she was being held back from whatever was happening behind that truck, by how she seemed to want to know yet desperately not want to know what was happening to cause those screams. From the sound of the toddler whatever IT was, IT was bad. The kid was going ballistic. A large crowd had gathered, their faces told a story of fear, pain, confusion and sadness. The seconds ticked into minutes, the kid was still screaming and tension was growing.
We had been watching one of Ollie’s softball games when the catastrophe struck. The father of one of Ollie’s teammates is a fireman. We all heard the cries and he immediately went to see if he could help. Sgt. Frankie was on the case. Astonishingly it was over in an instant. The screaming, the crowd, the panic all dissipated as quickly as they came on. Quick thinking by Sgt. Frankie had released the child from his torment. The kid, miraculously unhurt, had stuck his tiny hand inside the tow hitch. It was just the right size for his hand to slip in and with just enough room for his thumb to protrude from where the hitch pins. He could have easily slipped it out himself but being young, confused, inexperienced and panicked he made a fist instead. Once his hand closed into a fist, he was stuck, his hand immovable. His thumb caught in the hole, his fist too big to pull out of the hitch. His terror and confusion contagious to all those around him. Except Sgt. Frankie, who grabbed some lard from the BBQ caterers (whose truck the kid was stuck to) greased up the tow hitch and the kids hand and pushed the kids thumb back through the hole, opening his fist and releasing his hand. Easy peasy, no harm- no foul.
The whole event got me thinking. How many times have I “grabbed” onto something only to be terrified. How many times have my emotions, confusion, inexperience got the best of me? How many times I have made a fist around some situation or personal event and caused my own worst nightmare? Countless. The answer is countless. Yet in those situations, when I have been caught up in them, screaming, crying, desperately hoping that someone, anyone would or could come release me from my torment the idea of relaxing seemed impossible or ridiculous but in the end it was all that was needed. A deep cleansing breathe, a moment extra to think clearly, to just give IT (whatever IT might be) time and a whole new possibility might arise.
Next time you’re stuck, next time you grab onto something that is terrifying or confusing, just remember….
Sgt. Frankie says RELAX.