Parent Moments: A Christmas Disaster
Two years ago, when our son was 2 and I was pregnant with his sister, my husband Dave and I were freshly-minted apartment dwellers. We'd just moved out of our condo and it was our first-ever Christmas with a kid in a rental. We are really big on traditions and that Christmas was no exception; so we did our best to decorate without putting our damage deposit in jeopardy. We spruced up the white walls by gently taping Alex's crayon art to them. We bought a nice tree to act as the centerpiece of it all and decorated it with child-friendly, all-plastic ornaments.
But when it came time to hang up my grandmother's hand-knit stockings, I had no place for them. We couldn't put screws or nails into the mantle, and our stockings were too heavy to attach in any other way. So we made a trip to the store and found some stocking holders -- essentially, very pretty paperweights with hooks -- to sit over the fireplace. I picked out matching rose-filled silver vases for Dave and I. Alex, naturally, singled out the Santa snow globe holder for himself. We hung everything up and it worked just beautifully.
Fast forward to the evening of the 25th. We'd had a fabulous day -- age 2 is just perfect for Christmas. Alex was delighted with literally every present he opened, his favorite being a giant monster truck. My prime rib turned out perfectly and everyone finished the day fat and happy.
Until it happened...
A few minutes before bedtime, Alex eyed his stocking at the mantle, where I'd hung it again after he'd emptied it that morning. But he just couldn't resist checking to see if he'd missed any presents from Santa. He walked up and gave the sock a yank -- whereupon it became the Christmas Projectile of Doom. The heavy snow globe crashed at full speed right into his head, before breaking into a million tiny shards of glass. It missed his right eye by no more than an inch.
Dave and I went into panic mode. Alex's forehead gave new meaning to the phrase "gushing blood," and there was glitter and glass everywhere. It took me almost 10 minutes before I could tell if my son had shattered glass in his eye. When removing the glass as gently as possible didn't work, I hauled my screaming boy and my own pregnant self into the shower and let the water stream onto his forehead until I could be sure there was no glass left. The boy was a trooper and kept heartwrenchingly repeating, "I NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL!"
By the time we got out of the shower, Alex's vision was back to normal and the bleeding had diminished enough for us see that he'd suffered only a tiny scratch. We decided against taking him to the hospital, but those moments of panic were honestly the longest 20 minutes of my life. Even thinking about the disaster now gives me an instant reminder of the contents of my stomach and sends a rush of thankful questions through my mind: What if he'd moved his head just an inch to the left? What if the stocking holder had fallen differently?
The worst part of it all was that this -- one of my worst parenting moments -- ended up becoming Alex's first real memory. We'd hoped he'd forget all about it, but he didn't. Shopping for Christmas lights just last week, we walked by the aisle with the snow globes once again. My kindergartner's reaction? "Let's get out of here. I don't like those things." He still remembers!
If you could go back and change one parenting decision, what would it be?