August 6, 2012
My husband and I moved our youngest daughter back to school this past weekend. This is her third year of college, so the whole moving thing is more fun now than traumatic. I’m so excited for her, building her future, having fun and learning about life.
Inevitably, during this whole process of moving and starting another school year, we begin telling stories about when she and our other children were little. On this particular Saturday, we started reminiscing about times when we as parents would say one thing to them and they’d hear quite another.
When our youngest two children were maybe 4 and 6 years old, I had bought a beautiful Italian fruit bowl that I’d had my eye on for quite a while. It seemed an extravagance, but I had finally talked myself into justifying it. I took it home, unwrapped it and proudly displayed it on our coffee table. Since both of the children were playing soccer at the time, I felt it necessary to deliver the “Don’t kick the ball in the house” speech one more time, just for good measure.
Of course you know what’s coming. As soon as I left the living room I heard an unmistakable crash, then dead silence. In disbelief (though in hindsight I’m not sure why I didn’t actually expect this), I re-entered the room to see my beautiful, brand new bowl cracked and broken, with two children standing behind it wide-eyed and innocent (looking). I was so upset, I told them both, “You two are in hot water.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, they both began crying and saying, “No, don’t put us in hot water Mama,” and of course then I felt about two inches tall. No mother-of-the-year award for me that particular year, that was certain.
I explained to both children what the expression I had used actually meant, but I think it took them a while to believe me and relax.
Stories like that one are a sweet reminder of how innocent and unmarked our children are when they are so young. To this day, I feel guilty about how my words must have sounded to their little ears. To my knowledge, they never played soccer in the house after that day. What we saved in broken knick-knacks, though, may well be spent on therapy in the coming years.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear,” is eagerly expected in Fall 2012.