I try not to say things to my children that have the potential to emotionally scar them for life. I say "try" because, really, one person can't necessarily completely control what will lodge in another person's brain and eventually require years of therapy and a purification ceremony in a sweat lodge to fully comprehend, right? (RIGHT?) Anyway, my point here is that I do my best to not say terrifying and/or intensely damaging things to my children, but even though this seems like a fairly low bar in terms of First, Do No Harm parental oaths, I have screwed this one up in a big way on more than one occasion.
These things tend to happen in two stages: the unbelievable thing you blurt out in front of your child -- then the slow-motion car-wreck moment when you notice their utterly traumatized reaction. Here are some incredibly embarrassing examples:
1) In a fumbling attempt to assuage my son's fear of bones and skulls, I say, "But honey, you've got an entire skeleton inside your body right now!"
2) Child: "Has anyone ever died from a splinter?" My husband: "No, of course not." Me: "Well, maybe if they got, like, a really bad infection."
3) My oldest comes home from the dentist, still weeping from the trauma of having a tooth extracted. I tell him I understand exactly how he feels, having had every tortuous orthodontic procedure known to mankind. "In fact," I say sadly, "if you inherited my teeth, you're probably in for a lot more."
4) We're all driving on a road trip when my youngest expresses an interest in going on a horse trail ride. I enthusiastically agree we should do that someday as a family. Absentmindedly, a few minutes later, I tell my husband about how when I was a kid, I went on a morning trail ride at Glacier National Park and it turned out that the very next trail outing had encountered a grizzly bear and one of the horses reared and a lady shattered her skull on pavement, since all the riders were in the midst of crossing a road. After I complete my Final Destination tale, I glance in the backseat. Oops.
5) "There aren't any sharks in this water, right?" my kids ask anxiously. "Yes, but not this close," I say. "They're way way out in the deep section and they eat fish." And then it's like my brain just rips free of its moorings and I can't stop talking: "Well, okay, sometimes they come in close, but they're not the huge kind that, ha ha, eat people. Actually, I did hear about a surfer a while who -- but that was a long time ago. Huh, was that in California? No, I think it was here in Oregon. I wonder if that guy lived? Anyway, just don't swim like a fish."
6) Child: "What's that movie about?" Me: "It's this guy who goes rock climbing and a rock falls on him and smashes his hand so he's trapped for days and eventually he has to cut off his own arm with a crappy little multi-tool that isn't even sharp, can you believe -- uhhhhhh. Rock climbing. It's about rock climbing."
7) Me, tucking a child in at night: "Night night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite." Child: "What even are bedbugs? Are they real?" Me: "Oh man, let me get my computer -- you've GOTTA see this."
Have you ever said anything to your kids you wish you could INSTANTLY take back?
Image via 20th Century Fox