Small, sharp stuff is a recurring theme in my worries about Squidge. Especially small, sharp, swallowable stuff. Which is why I am currently kicking myself a million times over for failing to foresee this one coming.
When we bought our house three years ago, there was a broken double glazing pane in the window of what would become Squidge’s nursery. As the room was at that time the junk room, and as we had far more pressing renovation issues to contend with (wet rot, anyone?), and as it was only the outer pane that was broken, we somehow didn’t get round to it.
Fast-forward to this spring, and with Squidge installed in his nursery and our house about to go on the market, we decided that we really ought to replace that pane. So we got it measured up and ordered a replacement, and the guys came round today to fix it.
And I was really stupid. Because I didn’t really think about the fact that replacing the pane would mean that they would have to bring the damaged pane into Squidge’s nursery after they had removed it from the window. And I didn’t prepare for this. I didn’t put a dust sheet over his cot, I didn’t remove his toys from the room. All I did was toss all the toys into their storage box so that the glaziers didn’t trip over them.
Now, the pane itself we think was damaged by a pellet gun – there was a very small hole in the bottom of the pane, with a small amount of cracking and splintering around it. The glass it had knocked out had fallen into the space between the two panes, trapped within the double glazing unit. But when the glazier lifted the unit out, I suddenly thought, ‘Oh God, what if some of the glass gets out through the hole? Or what if the damaged part of the pane sheds more fragments of glass as they move it?’
And like a total fool, I said… Nothing. I just watched as they moved the pane out of the window and rested it flat (good side down, fortunately) on the top of Squidge’s open toy box.
I stood there and I could feel myself getting more and more stressed about the glass that might be falling on Squidge’s toys. In the end, I said aloud, ‘I wonder if I can see the pellet in the unit now it’s out?’ and then I went over to the unit under the pretence of looking for the pellet. Really I was checking that the underside of the pane had no loose fragments of glass that might brush off on Squidge’s teddies. Crap, I was thinking. I already knew this was going to be a problem for me.
The glaziers did a great job fixing in the new unit, they took the old unit away, and then I hoovered like mad in Squidge’s room and all through upstairs just in case a little bit of glass might have fallen from the pane and might have been tracked through the house.
I checked a couple of Squidge’s toys on top of the box – they looked fine, and I tried to make myself leave it at that. Only the good side of the window went down on the box, I reminded myself. The broken side was upturned.
Fast-forward again to this evening, and Squidge’s bedtime. I am feeding him on our bed and I suddenly get clutched by this absolute paranoia that there might be glass in his cot. Maybe also on his two teddies that live in the cot (that weren’t in the box) and that he sucks for comfort in the night. Trapped under my feeding baby, I called my husband up to check.
Understandably, he was rattled with me for not having had the sense to cover up Squidge’s cot and toys. ‘You worry about ridiculous things, and then you let something genuinely dangerous happen,’ he said. ‘Sometimes I think you have no brain!’
Yep, sometimes I think that, too.
So I listened to him swiping down the cot sheet and I called out, ‘Remember to check the teddies!’
‘I have checked them,’ he said.
‘But have you checked them really, really carefully? For the smallest possible bits of glass? And have you checked extra carefully on all his favourite bits of the teddy to suck?’
He sighs. ‘I have checked, but I’ll check again.’
Of course, that wasn’t enough for me, and when I took Squidge through to his nursery, I also had to check the teddies for glass. A couple of times. While fighting back the urge to cry and hyperventilate.
What if there is glass?
What if he swallows it?
What if it pierces his intestines and he gets internal bleeding?
What if he dies in the night and it’s all my fault and I could have prevented it?
These are the thoughts that were going round and round my head. (Still are, to be honest, as I type this post.)
I tried asking myself the two questions that I came up with in my last post: Could I have foreseen this? What can I do to avoid something like this happening in future?
So: could I have foreseen it? The answer is surely yes. Why the hell I didn’t think about the fact that broken glass would be coming through the nursery, I cannot tell you. And why I didn’t speak up when the glaziers started their work and say, Hang on, guys! Let me just get some sheets to cover up my baby’s stuff! I also cannot say. I only got four and a half hours’ sleep last night (Squidge had a fever) so I’m not running at my best, which may be part of the reason for my mistake, but honestly I don’t know if I would have thought about it even if I had got a full night’s sleep.
I’m angry at myself for that.
But it’s too late now; it happened, and I have to move on from it. Which brings me to my second question:
What can I do to avoid something like this happening in the future?
Well, I need to think through events ahead of time a little better. More planning, more common sense. I’ve always been a bit scant in the common sense department, and situations like this really highlight that. Rather than seeing the dangers after they’ve happened, I need to try to spot them before they happen, so that I can avoid having to worry about them altogether. That’s not necessarily going to work all the time, and I’m bound to get caught out on occasion, but it could save me a lot of stress and heartache even if it just worked part of the time.
In the meantime, I’m left with a box of toys that I’m going to have to confiscate from Squidge until I’ve had the time on my own (precious time on my own, I might add, which I could be putting to other, more productive stuff) to take each toy out and individually inspect it for glass. And then wash out the box. And then hoover the room again just in case I missed a bit of glass. (I’ve caught myself thinking a couple of times today that it would be REALLY great if glass were magnetic and I could just run a magnet over all the toys and be sure they were clean.)
It’s situations like this where I end up comparing myself unfavourably to ‘normal’ parents. As in, would a normal parent worry about this? Would a normal parent go to these lengths to check for glass, or would they just give each toy a brief glance and shake it off outside? Would a normal parent have thought to cover the bloody toys in the first place?
So then on top of feeling anxious about Squidge and the glass, I also end up feeling inadequate, because I’ve fallen short of behaving like I imagine a ‘capable’ parent would. And guilty, because I might have done something to endanger Squidge. And because I am being anxious around Squidge, and I am conscious that he might pick up on my anxiety and grow up to be anxious himself.
Argh. Today was a bit difficult.