I never understood the power children can wield with their innocent little words. The irony is that they don’t either. They’re too young. With one simple sentence that even they don’t understand, they have the power to embarrass, shame, and educate otherwise caring and intelligent adults.
I’m sure that every parent reading this has already had that image come to mind of that time when their dear little one said something that had the parent wondering whether or not they’d go to jail now, or merely have to pay a fine.
When my oldest was about two and a half years old, our area suffered a horrible snow storm. At the time, we lived in a mobile home just off the highway, jammed really close to other mobile homes.
We opened the front door to a wall of snow that we later discovered had covered us from ground to roof, but only on one side. It was an occasion where the snow drifts were pulled by the fierce wind, in a vacuum, away from the back of one trailer only to be deposited against the front side of the one next to it. We could all exit our back doors and step down onto bare grass.
I was amazed that we hadn’t lost electricity. It was the perfect Christmas Day, only it was mid-January.
My daughter grew restless and wanted to go out and play in the ‘no’. I bundled her little body up from head to toe with layers and layers of cottony goodness while her dad knocked the snow away from the front door.
She walked so stiffly, arms almost standing out on their own, and ran out onto the porch before I could catch her. She fell, and got lost in the snow drift that remained. I went in after her and pulled her up quickly.
She was giggling. “’No’, Mommy. ‘No’!
“That’s right, Baby. Snow!”
I held onto her as we descended the porch and stepped out onto a fairly clean lawn. I showed her how to make snowballs, and I tossed them gently toward her feet and that space just in front of them. She tried to throw them at me, and giggled every time one hit my legs.
I softly tossed another toward her feet. At the exact same time, she had bent down to get more snow. I couldn’t retract it; it was too late. I knew what was going to happen a split second before it did. I wasn’t wrong. My snowball landed squarely in her face, and she shrieked.
“No hit me no more, Mommy, please no hit me no more!”
What had started out as innocent playtime had quickly turned into a disaster. Her pitiful cries put a sinister twist on something that was a mere accident of play.
My heart sank. I quickly wrapped her up in my arms and scooped her up into the air, cleaning away the snow and planting kisses where the snow had been.
Stripped of all the outerwear, we cuddled with hot chocolate and lots of marshmallows.
For days and days after that, though, everyone she saw heard her explanation of the events. She’d shake her little head and repeat with certainty my promise to her that day.
“Mommy no hit me no more.”