So there I was, riding in the back of an ambulance with my one-year-old little boy lying on me. He was breathing and seemingly stable, but the paramedics couldn’t keep him awake. I tried tickling his inner thigh, a sure attention-grabber for any little one. He stirred but slipped back to being unresponsive…but still, any response seemed like a good sign to me. Nobody in the back of the ambulance seemed overly stressed, so I took that also as a good sign.

We were at a theme park that day, in southern Maine. I was with a good friend who, thankfully, happened to be a nurse practitioner. I had my four young children with me, Keegan in the stroller. As I was maneuvering the line for a ride, Keegan began to squirm, trying to get out of his seat.

“I don’t think so, Keeg.” I said as I buckled his seat belt, ensuring he would stay put (he didn’t appreciate that). Funny, me thinking that a mere seatbelt would contain this little bundle of unending energy.

Keegan was our fourth child. We often found ourselves laughing and saying, “It’s a good thing we didn’t have him first. There may not have been any more!” He was non-stop energy. Our first baby, Brendan, was a boy, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was ahead of me when Keegan came into our world. I had no idea the whirlwind that was about to encompass me. They were so different! Don’t get me wrong, Brendan was all boy. His first word was “ball”. He loved to follow dad around the yard “helping with chores”. But Brendan was inherently compliant. I thought it was just great parenting, but boy did that prove to be naive.

I tried all the same tactics with Keegan. They worked on his three older siblings…I should be all set, right?

Enter Keegan, toddling into the kitchen at age one, holding the cat by the head. He was so excited! The cat was not.

Oh boy, this might prove a bit more challenging than I originally thought. I rescued the freaked out cat. Keegan giggled.

It wasn’t too many weeks later that I found myself in the back of the ambulance, one of several trips in our journey with Keegan. While I tried to get the other Brendan, Bridget, and Kelly settled in the theme park ride that day, Keegan overpowered the seatbelt and climbed out to sit backward on the cross bar of the front of the stroller. Keep in mind, I was standing there with one hand still on the stroller. He was a stealthy little guy. Not realizing he had gotten free, I moved the stroller and Keegan flipped backward onto the cement, head first. He screamed, then fell asleep. It wasn’t long before we realized he needed to be transported and checked out at an ER.

To make a long story short(er), Keegan woke up soon after we got to the ER and was soon acting normally. We stayed for a few hours of observation and then headed home.

So what’s my point? No child is the same as their siblings. There will always be challenges. Don’t ever get comfortable and always be open to changing how you parent.

That doesn’t mean changing expectations or boundaries. Repeat that.

But you need to be open to how you might get to the same endpoint via an alternative path. Keegan changed everything about my parenting. I fully believe he was given to me for a reason.

I was getting entirely too comfortable.

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