Accidents come in many shapes and sizes. Some are bigger than others obviously (like a car accident) and some are very minute. But when you really stop and think about it, if you can say no one was hurt, a good bit of them really aren’t so bad.
One of my first so-called accidents that I remember was when I was about 12 years old. I was cleaning the house and I picked up my mom’s crystal vase. As I was walking through the living room, I turned the corner and accidentally hit the vase on the corner of the wall, shattering it into several pieces. I was so upset and afraid that I would get in trouble. To avoid being yelled at in person, I called my mom at work to tell her what happened. My mom’s reply, “Did you get cut? Are you hurt?” Was I hurt? Really? I was waiting for her to yell at me, but instead, I got “did you get cut?” Now this entire incident may not seem like a big deal to any adult, but to my 12-year-old mind, it was mind-blowing. I broke an expensive vase, and I didn’t get in trouble. I never forgot that moment or my mom’s reaction. Fast forward a few years and several bigger accidents (car accidents) of my own. Each time my parents would show up, my mom was always focused on my well-being. Never did I hear about how careless I was or the amount of damage I did. Perhaps there is a slight chance these incidents and how my parents reacted to each changed the way I view what is important life (and what a true accident is).
My kids think I yell a lot, but if they stopped and gave it some thought, then they would realize that I yell when I have repeatedly told them to do (or not do), only to be met with attitude; When they are being deliberate in being defiant. If they break a glass or plate – and they have many – no big deal. Like my mom, I have responded “don’t cut your yourself” as I quickly moved to clean up any glass. A year and a half ago, Virginia totaled her first car in an accident. As we sat the accident scene, I hugged her and told her not to worry, it was just a car. And yes, I truly believed that. If you had seen this car, you would understand… All that mattered was that She was OK. I didn’t care about the damage to the car or the amount of money it was going to cost me (especially since she did not have full coverage on the car). All that mattered was that she did not get hurt. And even though most parents understand, my child was taken aback by the fact that I was not mad.
Fast forward to now. Things still get broken, and when they do, I still don’t yell. I yell when the rules are broken; and then I am still the “angry mom” that always yells according to my kids. But last night, my girls had a small reminder of how understanding their mom can be; and more importantly, what is truly important. Last night, Klara (with her learner’s permit) drove she and Virginia in Virginia’s car to Petsmart. Then I got that phone call. Virginia was calling me to tell me that Klara wrecked her car. Of course my first thought was one of panic, but then Virginia went into the details of how they were parking and Klara hit the accelerator instead of the brakes and drove into some bushes. That’s it? I was relieved. But apparently it was a little worse than it sounded. The car was stuck. It was damaged, and Virginia was yelling at me on the phone about Klara.
I drove to the accident scene to see this car suspended over a median that had some very “strong” bushes in it. Both the front end and back-end wheels were off the pavement. There would be no driving the car out of there. Klara was crying. Virginia was yelling. I had to remind Virginia about her accident. I also reminded her about how upset she had been and how I did not yell at her either. This could have been so much worse. It was just a car. It could be fixed. And the scene was a little ridiculous looking.
A very generous couple stopped to help. The man hooked the car up to his very large truck and pulled it off and out of the bushes. The police showed up to take a report. Klara was visibly shaken which is understandable, so the police officer joked with her about whether or not the buses would make it. He was very nice. I hugged Klara and told her it was all right. All that mattered was that no one was hurt. We all make mistakes. We all learn from them, and hopefully we don’t make them again. Unfortunately the front bumper was in bad shape, making the car undriveable. As we waited for a tow truck to hook up the car, I sat in my car with the girls. Virginia had finally calmed down and was ready to joke about the situation. Klara was not quite ready to joke yet, but was much more relaxed. By the time we got home, we were all able to laugh about it and the fact that none of us had thought to take a picture of the ridiculous situation.
Before going to bed, I reminded Klara that I loved her no matter what mistakes she could make. Mistakes are going to happen, and WE will always get through them. Klara told me she loved me and said she felt a lot better knowing I was understanding and calm about the entire situation.
As I lay in bed, I was taken back to that simple moment when I was 12, and my mom’s words, “are you hurt?” I’m so very thankful that my mom taught me what is truly valuable in life, people….not things. Things are replaceable. People are not. Never take what is important for granted.