Sometimes, I have a little giggle on the inside when somebody says something like: “Oh, your kids are so well behaved”. At that moment, my mind wanders to many things, one of which is a special moment many years ago when my eldest two children were around the ages of two and three.
My husband Tony and I called them “creative toddlers”. It was the only way we could explain some of the antics they used to get up to together. One particular morning, we awoke to the smell of smoke. Despite the many child locks and gates we had put on doors, fridges and cupboards these children were brilliant and outdid anything the experts in the child safety industry could came up with to keep them safe.
As I rose quickly to investigate where the burning smell was coming from I found myself speechless. I literally didn’t know how to put into words the scene that lay before me. It’s only now, many years later, I can.
It began when I woke from only four hours sleep to find my two little cherubs sitting at their child-size table in the lounge area with huge smiles on their faces. That might sound nice, but I could not see the table they were sitting at due to the layers of glistening oats and honey spread across it and onto the floor!
My eyes were then drawn to the kitchen bench which reflected a similar scene of oats, milk and empty cordial bottles. Empty cordial bottles?
As I started to physically follow the mess to the kitchen I quickly realised where the cordial was when my feet splashed through sticky liquid flooding my kitchen floor. Realising the burnt smell was coming from the microwave I opened it to find my basting brush frizzled to something unrecognisable inside a bowl of…well, who really knows!
Unable to speak, I returned to my bedroom passing my cherubs on the way, who were looking very proud of themselves, announcing boldly, “Look mummy! We made breakfast!”
All I could say to Tony was, “You need to take a look.”
I’d never been speechless before. It was an odd feeling and one I didn’t really want to re-live quite like that again, but there were to be more of these days.
Our next course of action was to put the children in the bathtub while we spent the next hour or so cleaning up after ‘breakfast’.
For weeks later we suffered post-traumatic flashbacks as the sound of our feet sticking to the floor brought back fresh memories of that eventful morning time and time again.
Although we gave them a good talking to about not putting things in the microwave, I don’t remember getting angry at my toddlers for this incident, probably because it took so long to recover from the shock of it.
What we saw as a major mess and possible catastrophic kitchen incident, they saw as a gift to us. In their young minds they were making us breakfast and were justifiably proud. Their motivation was love. I’m just grateful they didn’t decide to give us breakfast in bed—though if I hadn’t risen when I did it probably would have been.
Sometimes people do things that make us want to immediately react negatively. What appears to be something hurtful or something that might harm us or cause us more work is not always what it first appears to be—it may just be an accidental outcome of an act that first began with the intention of kindness.
When we take time to pause, take some deep breaths and look at the situation through someone else’s eyes, we may be surprised at what we find. Who knows—we may realise that the intention of the person involved was born out of love and not from the intention to harm.
Published in the Salvos Warcry Magazine April 21, 2018
(c) Rebecca Moore 2018