While watching American Idol last night we heard a big crash, then another, and another – all coming from the loft above. Before we could even question what the cause of the sound was we heard the Princess (our 4 year old daughter) screaming and more crashing sounds. Adrenaline kicked in and I went into super mommy mode, launching myself over the pet gate on the stairs and up the stairs three at a time. Princess was curled into a little ball under what used to be part of the desk and screaming like there was no tomorrow.
This desk had a fixed keyboard tray that jutted out a bit further than the rest of the desk and it had come loose from the desk while she was leaning on it. I have told the children not to lean on it however, it was a cheap Wal-Mart design that didn’t have room for the mouse on the tray. There really wasn’t any way to reach the mouse if you are 4 years old without leaning across the keyboard tray.
When it collapsed she fell forward into the desk and then toppled down into the space that used to be the tray. The repeated crashes were the keyboard, the mouse, the speakers being yanked from behind when the keyboard cord came ripping out, stacks of CD-Roms crashing to the floor and so on. She managed to escape the incident with only one small bruise on her upper arm but I felt terrible when she kept screaming she was sorry between sobs.
It gave me the chance for the talk I have with all the kids but this was Princess’ first one. “I am not mad at you for the desk breaking and you are not in trouble. I tell you not to lean on the tray because it isn’t strong enough and might break. I know that if it breaks you might get hurt and I don’t want you to get hurt.” Princess’ older sister and brothers were very concerned for her and even one of the cats came tearing upstairs to see what the commotion was all about. This was an excellent time for the a talk when a lesson can apply in real time, especially when there are no major injuries.
This was also an excellent reminder for me of how much my children mean to me and how devastated I would be if something really serious happened to them. As parents we make rules to protect our children and sometimes we forget that the rule we made is to protect them – thinking how much that piece of furniture cost us and shifting the focus to the material item instead. When we should be explaining that we don’t want them leaning on a keyboard tray because they could get hurt, we may be sending the message that we don’t want them leaning on the keyboard tray because it will tear up the desk. While I want to impart to my children that they should take care of their belongings, I don’t want them to place more value on belongings than on people or heaven forbid, make them think I care more about a desk than I do about them. The emphasis in the lesson should be on their well-being and when everyone is healthy and money is tight, we don’t always think about (we are only human after all) where we are placing the emphasis, taking for granted that our children understand.
In the end we had lots of cuddle time the rest of the evening (giving my rapid pulse a chance to slow down). The desk is currently off limits and non-functional and the kids are upset that they can’t use the computer. As for a replacement, hopefully I will find a more practical and sturdy desk at Goodwill in the next few days.