We came home from shopping, a quick trip to gather necessities before the inbound winter storm. Shopping is stressful enough as it is, but with the temperature dropping, wet branches and road signs were beginning to freeze, and we were in an extra rush to get our groceries inside.
Before we pulled in the driveway, my wife mentioned to the kids that they would go ahead and get their baths out of the way in case the electricity goes out and the well pump stops working. We promptly forgot about this remark, but our 3-year-old didn’t. The bath tub was very full of very cold water that my wife had ran, again, in case we ended up without power/water. So as we were hustling to get groceries in the house, J went in the bathroom, striped off his clothes, and climbed into the tub. And began crying. Cold water on little feet will do that.
We’re used to some whimper-whine and cry especially after we get home from town. So we didn’t overreact to the crying. I called out, “What is it?” I was answered by more crying. His mother was outside. I was rushing to get out the door because I had an appointment to get to. “E, go check on your brother!” My 7-year-old put his DS down long enough to comply and found the little guy trying to get out of the cold water. “Dad! Is this our bath water?” I instantly realized what was going on and prioritized running to the bathroom. J was already almost out of the tub at this point. So I grabbed him up and wrapped him with a towel, putting him in from of out fireplace. “Oh, baby, that’s not your bath water! We aren’t ready for bath yet!” “I forgot I even mentioned the bath,” my wife said when she came in and found out what was happening. “But he doesn’t forget anything!” He continued to cry for a good several minutes.
I was amazed in the next instant to hear my 7-year-old say, “You and momma are bad parents!”
What? Bad parents? That’s quite a leap to make based on not responding immediately to his brother’s desperate cries for help. And besides, who is he to judge?? After I started lecturing him about respect in a slightly elevated tone of voice, my mind was telling me, “Uh, he’s your son… The one that will be the product of your bad parenting…”
Later that night, I reflected on the whole exchange. By this time, the little one had forgotten his harrowing incident and his cold feet. He was already in dreamland. The big one and I had watched a movie together, eaten and laughed. Momma said it was time for bed. But instead, we took time to read the Bible together. Momma didn’t mind. We prayed and I thanked God for my family and pled blessings on them before getting sweet goodnight sugars. And I realized…
The ups and downs and inglorious moments we experience in family life are the reason we need the stability of routine, positive interactions with one another. May you and yours have regular loving exchanges that overshadow the moments of weakness and doubt you experience from time to time.
Copyright (c) 2013 Glen Gaugh. Image credit- author