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
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside