When good bunnies go bad

While we were at church camp over Labor Day weekend, we attended the kids’ first campfire sing-along. M and K were treated to a rousing edition of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” which, understandably so, came out to K as “My Bunny…” How would she know what a bonnie is anyway? Cute, forgettable, etc.

Until the other day, when we were talking about alarm systems and burglers and generally discomforting questions of safety that sometimes (okay, often) arise around our house. Not that we’ve had any problems with safety. But prevention! So we’re talking about these things, when K calmly points out, “And if someone came in and took my bunny, I could say (singing now) bring back my bunny to me.”

We couldn’t help it. B, M, and I all burst out laughing. It was the seriousness with which she said it, the smooth way she slipped into singing, the cuteness compounded exponentially. K, of course, burst into hysterical tears.

I remember that feeling. I once mistook “condiments” for “condoms” while getting ready for dinner, and the embarrassment broke me. I ran to my room, sobbing, brought out only by my father and his gentle comfort. The hurt is still there, buried deep, at feeling stupid and being laughed at for something that I hadn’t understood I was doing wrong. Something that wasn’t even wrong. I had done to her what had been done to me, and I hadn’t realized until it was too late to take back my laughter, too late to ever undo the hurt I’d just caused. That hurt–she could carry it around for the rest of her life, as that little shard has stayed in me.

She won’t, at least I highly doubt it. She’s only three, with that blissfully short memory. I hope it passes away and that when the next chance comes around I’ll be more careful. In the back of my mind, I know it’ll just be something else. I spend a lot of time thinking about how fragile my kids are, not just physically but emotionally, how there will no doubt be things I do or say that will stay with them forever. The way I still rinse the food side of dishes twice or listen for the bump-bump of the edge of a lane line, all because of one passing warning from my parents. The way ketchup still to this day reminds me of condoms and condiments. I pray it won’t be serious, that there won’t be hysterics, that it won’t hurt too bad. I pray that I give more good memories than bad. I pray that they understand my very best intentions, that even when it happens, they know it came at the price of a painful wait for that shoe to drop and even more painful remorse.


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