Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fragile? That Must Be Italian!

I put the ornaments on the tree this year, very careful to place all of the unbreakables towards the bottom.  I knew when my daughter would wake up in the morning she'd marvel at this new 8 foot toy with twinkly lights and accessories.  I came across an old ornament, two bears sitting on a tricycle.  I don't remember where I got it, figured it wasn't valuable, and set it on a bottom branch.  A few days later I was passing the tree and stepped on a part of the wheel, took another step and found a bear.  The unbreakable ornament was apparently breakable.

It shouldn't have mattered.  I knew it wasn't one of those important ornaments I clearly placed closer to the top.  Though as I held the pieces in my hand and glanced at the little perpetrator playing a few feet away, I was sad.

Its a hard thing when your kid breaks something that's always been important to you or that's suddenly become important once you realize its in a million pieces.  Most parents take the usual precautions.  However there are somethings you just don't think will break because up until now, there was no one in your dwelling acting like a savage.  No one has been throwing things haphazardly that don't often get thrown.  For years I dropped plates, sat on sunglasses and knocked over cups which all somehow defied the laws of science and gravity.  I, being much taller, heavier, and stronger than all of these materials, didn't break them.  Yet a significantly smaller, featherweight being wrecks everything in my home.  A mere flick of the finger demolishes something to an unrecognizable proportion.

I should've known better.  My daughter had just broken one of my beloved turkey napkin rings at Thanksgiving.  The minute it landed in her little bionic hand it was tossed behind her back, shattering as it hit the floor.  In two seconds one of the nuances of my traditional dinner was ruined.  I coudn't be mad at her for either of these instances though.  She's a toddler and learning right?  As I tried to reasemble both the turkey ring and the ornament I considered it could've been worse.  At least it wasn't my wedding cake topper or my favorite snow globe.  Both of those, naturally in areas she can't reach as I know they are my prized posessions.  Its the stuff on the ground, near to her touch, whose value I soon found myself reassesing. 

With this in mind, a few days later I looked at the last Rubbermaid box of holiday cheer.  My grandmother made needlepoint houses for me years ago and I have a village along with the nativity scene underneath our tree.  Littered amongst the town are the figurines from the movie Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  I had put off setting them up after the ornament incident but my husband reminded me that Christmas is about the kids and its more fun to be Mrs. Claus than Scrooge.  So I opened the box, arranged Christmas Town on top of the puffy snow and white lights, stood back and took a mental "before" picture.

The next day I introduced my daughter to the village and all the characters.  She made "baah" noises when I showed her the sheep in the manger and Sam the Snowman and Yukon Cornelius took rides in her stroller.  We had an interesting teaching moment when she took the Virgin Mary and threw her down the hallway.  It was our first argument as she babbled with many a hand gesture, yet I stood firm on my request for her to return "the doll" to Mommy and not throw. 

I reconsidered my choice of decorating as she put Mary back in the manger.  But as my daughter then walked over to the monkey ornament and fed it a Cheerio, I could't imagine not letting her enjoy it all.  How could she not play with the angel ornaments as I did or have the wise men walk along the snowy trail to the general store? With the dustbuster fully charged,  I let her roam free.

Everyday I find a random ornament near her toys.  Somedays I leave them for her to find. Other days I teach her how to return them to their right spot.  The ones with missing pieces end up in a pile for Daddy and Mommy to glue later. 

I suppose once you let a little person into your life everything becomes more fragile.  Most things can be mended with a little bit of Elmers though you know they'll never be the same.  Its those tiny sutures in the depths of your heart, the voids you never knew you had, that are filled and healed with the love only your little person can give.  The difference is, you're perfectly fine knowing it'll never be the same.

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