I often get up before the sun so I can have some quiet “me time” all to myself and get a little work done. As a result, I usually go to bed pretty early. But recently, I stayed up way past my bedtime along with 8-year-old son, who was working oh so hard on a very intricate LEGO® T-Rex project he wanted to finish.
It’s hard for him to build anything in peace during daylight hours when his little brother is around, so I rolled with it.
All told, it took him two hours to get it done, and he was so proud of his finished dinosaur once he could stand back and admire his handy work. We took photos and put it in a safe place on the kitchen counter, and I cautioned him to move it very carefully. I knew if it hit the floor, it would shatter instantly. He was excited to tell his friends about it at school the next day, and after giving it one final long look, he headed to bed just shy of midnight.
The next morning, my toddler came bounding down the hall and immediately wanted to play with Mr. T-Rex. But of course, like most toddlers, he thinks everything is a hammer. So I cautioned my 8-year-old to very carefully hold it still and let his little brother look at it up close, so he could see it without wanting to yank it out of his hands. I reminded my toddler just how hard his older brother had worked on it so we want to be super careful when we look at it.
We made it through the morning just fine — all of us in one piece, including Mr. T-Rex — and I got my son off to school.
Later that day, though, I needed to clear some space off of the kitchen island, so I picked up the T-Rex to move it to the laundry room where it would be safe from my toddler for the day.
In that process, I somehow lost my grip and … well, DROPPED THE T-REX ON THE FLOOR.
I gasped. Time seemed to slow down as I waited — helpless — for the crash. I was instantly transported back to my childhood and suddenly remembered exactly what it felt like to automatically say “I’m sorry, it was an accident!” and truly, truly mean it.
Sometimes parenting is saying you’re sorry.
Luckily, it wasn’t a complete disaster. The main body of Mr. T-Rex was still in tact, thank goodness, but I wasn’t sure how each of the other billion pieces fit together. I tried to piece the head back on, but then a few more pieces fell off. So I laid it back down on the counter and left it alone.
I knew my son was going to be really disappointed, but I decided I needed to own my part. I’d tell tell him what happened and (try to) help him piece it back together. And then I’d eat a little crow as my own repeated phrases came back to haunt me. (If I had a dime for every time I told my kids to “be careful,” I’d be a very rich lady.)
Now I know that in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t the end of the world. Mr. T-Rex would have likely ended up in pieces in the toy box eventually anyways … but it was the fact that he had worked so hard on it and had just finished it. It had been a painstaking process, and he was really proud of the end result. Rationally, I knew he would be fine — that he would rebuild it and move on — but I still felt awful.
In the end, I decided to look on the bright side: This was a good example of the importance of owning up and apologizing for something, even though you know it will cause disappointment. Maybe it’ll even help me establish some credibility as an approachable human being that makes mistakes, too. After all, if it’s okay for me to make mistakes, it’s certainly okay for him to make mistakes.
Like I said, sometimes parenting is saying you’re sorry. And eating a little crow. And being human.
Oh, and if anyone out there knows of a LEGO® table that offers a clear, bulletproof lid to protect hard-fought creations from immediate destruction by the least-expected family member, I’m all ears.