Friday, March 13, 2009

Failing my children in new and exciting ways

I have not had a particularly strong week as a parent. At the park on Sunday, I sat Luca on my lap to go down a slide, and his foot caught and twisted up behind him. He didn't cry much when it happened, and it wasn't until after his nap and late lunch that I realized he couldn't walk. Sam was on a bike ride, so I left a note saying I'd taken Luca to the Emergency Room because something was wrong with his leg. Due to the brevity of my message, Sam showed up an hour later looking ten years older. In my mind, the note clearly referred to the slide incident, which I had not stopped thinking about since it happened. See, it's actually a common accident in which a kid sitting on his mom's lap gets his foot wedged between her and the slide and breaks a leg. I kept obsessing because I KNOW better, and I HAD made sure that Luca's legs were on top of mine when we started. However, in Sam's mind, Luca had contracted flesh-eating bacteria and was facing amputation.

Luckily, the X-ray showed no fracture, so we were sent home with a diagnosis of sprained knee. Luca adapted pretty well: he reverted to crawling for a couple days and is now walking again with just a little hitch in his giddy-up.

The injury done to Paolo this morning was emotional, but no less painful, according to my hypercritical, I mean helpful, husband. Paolo realized in the car when we'd just about reached school that he was still wearing his pajama bottoms. Instantly I remembered that he'd joined me in the bathroom half-dressed to use the potty, and then we'd brushed teeth together and gone downstairs. He'd never returned to his room to change his bottom half and, hence, still had on Batman pj bottoms. I tried to laugh about with him, but he was really upset. I made a snap decision to get him to school on time and bring his pants later. Even though no one would EVER guess his solid black pants were pajama bottoms, Paolo was mortified, and I had to push him into his classroom, promising to be right back.

When I explained to Sam why I was dashing in and out of the house with a pair of pants, he pinpointed that moment - the moment I heartlessly shoved our son into a mocking classroom - as what was sure to become Paolo's first memory, one of utter humiliation. What I SHOULD have done, according to Paolo's father and Paolo's teacher, was come back home, let Paolo finish dressing, and be late to school.

You know you haven't had your best week when the highlight is that you didn't break your kid's leg.

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