What’s the most basic thing that parents teach children? The easiest lesson of all parenting. Don’t play with fire. That’s something cavemen successfully taught their children. But today I found a way to mess it up.
When I walked into the kitchen to prepare lunch for the kids I saw the two year old touching the knobs on the stove. So I went into Dad mode and yelled her name. She was so surprised she jumped up about three feet, she dropped her cup spilling water everywhere, and was crying before her feet touched the ground. Then she ran in place while crying (which in a puddle isn’t the smartest thing to do we learned) She then fell and cried some more.
But I’m DAD!!! And what we had here was a genuine teachable moment. I’ve got to teach the child not to touch the stove because the stove has fire and that’s dangerous dangerous dangerous. So I got down on one knee (right in the puddle) and explained to her that she should never ever to touch the dangerous dangerous dangerous stove. I ordered her to the step which is where I send the children when they do something bad. They have to sit there until I tell them to get off the step.
Typically, I wait about one minute or two and then ask them to come see me where I ask them what they did wrong. And I put on my very disappointed face. I explain why we don’t do whatever they got in trouble for and I make them say they’re sorry and have them promise to never do it again.
So I cleaned up the puddle and then I’ll be honest I totally forgot I sent her to the step. I just forgot. (Don’t you dare judge me) I had ESPN on and I watched the highlights of the Magic/Celtics game. I turned the TV off, folded some laundry, and walked towards my bedroom to put the laundry away.
And there she was. Sitting on the step looking up at me. Looking so sad too. But I remembered I had a job to do. Her cuteness and my guilt for forgetting shouldn’t have an impact here. So I put on my disappointed face and asked her to come see me. She followed me into my room and I asked her what she did wrong.
And she looked at me blankly. And I could see in her eyes that she couldn’t remember what the heck she’d been sitting on the step for. She had no idea. The poor child was searching for something to say and finally blurted out: “He hit me first!”
And I couldn’t help but laugh. And then she laughed too just relieved.
What we had was a daughter who couldn’t remember why she’d been punished and a Dad who’d forgotten he’d punished her. Kinda’ sad when you think about it. So I took her into the kitchen and made her lunch.