The science section of the NY Times frightened me half to death this morning with this story about a 23-month-old who had choked to death on popcorn, even with her CPR trained Marine father sitting right next to her. I just started giving my children (ages 7 and 9) popcorn this year, but I might take it back now.
I am the most hypervigilant mom in the world when it comes to safety. At parties where children run wild while the adults chat around the chips and salsa, I am the only parent watching the kids. No, you cannot throw soccer balls at people's heads, and please don't all 15 of you stand in the play structure pushing. I can't help imagining a heap of little broken bodies.
Yet my children's three emergency room injuries all happened on my watch. My son broke a wrist while running down the front steps in 1st grade; the following year he tripped over a tree root in our yard and got a piece of wood lodged in his knee.
My daughter's injury was the worst of all. Our house was built in 1897, so the steam pipes are outside the walls. One early morning, when she was a toddler, very soon after I impulsively quit my job at ym (I can be an Irish hot head), I was foggily making coffee while she played behind me. In a split second I heard a scream. Her hand had gotten stuck between the pipe and the wall. I grabbed her, and ran the hand under cold water. She cried a cry I had never heard before. I saw the skin peel right off her hand. My baby now has a scar from her wrist to her thumb. And to me it is a symbol of my failed parenting.