Ok…so there wasn’t a fire. But there could have been.
Backstory first. I had just started scrambled eggs for the kids when the neighbor came to the door. Our goat broke a fence down and escaped to go eat different weeds because apparently her pasture weeds are not good enough. She was loose outside and I had to go catch her. Sam (8) has cooked eggs many many times before. I’m always in the house but he does the whole thing start to finish on his own.
Mistake #1. I let the eggs keep cooking and I left Sam in charge of the eggs while I caught the goat.
After a while, Renna (10) came outside and said “I think Sam burned the eggs.” I told her to run back to the house and move the pan from the hot burner to a cold one. Direct quote. Exactly what I said. Which is apparently not clear enough and mistake #2. I followed shortly behind her. I found the pan on the counter. Directly on the counter! Mistake #7. Yep. It’s out of order for a reason…
At this point I freaked out and started yelling at them. Then I saw the melted scorch mark on the vinyl that covers our kitchen table. Mistake #6. I freaked out some more. I told them I didn’t realize they were that dumb…not my finest parenting moment. I was disappointed and heated and afraid. I was scared about what could have happened. This is a parenting mistake…but not a fire mistake. More on that later.
I started to calm down and to try to get to the bottom of what transpired so we could learn something. At this point I hadn’t admitted my own mistakes to myself. Through blaming each other and tears and general sibling muck, we got to the source. Mistake #3, though good intentioned, Renna made a game to keep the twins “busy” while the eggs finished. She was supposed to just watch them and stay in the kitchen. Mistake #4 was the twins got rowdy and ran around with Renna’s treasure hunt game when they were supposed to stay at the kitchen table and sit and wait. Mistake #5, Sam saw them get rowdy and wanted to play and interfere too. Sam left the eggs unattended on the stove while he tried to ruin their game. He then came back and placed a hot pan on the vinyl table. Renna returned and moved the hot pan to the counter (see mistake 7).
None of the people in this story can be trusted. They all made mistakes. Mistakes that burned a little hole in the vinyl table cover but COULD have been much worse. And it’s that COULD HAVE that is so scary.
I did apologize to them for calling them dumb. They are not dumb. They made dumb choices. They are smart people who did a dumb thing. I am a smart person who made a dumb choice.
We spent the next 90 minutes talking about different aspects of fire safety and walking through the mistakes we all made and what we could have and should have done differently. No one mistake quantifying over the other except mine. I’m the adult. I made the biggest mistake. I started the chain that caused 6 other mistakes to follow.
I work very hard to teach my kids life skills and responsibilities, but I often forget just how young they are and how far those skills need to develop before they can actually use them without me. I struggle with the line between giving them freedom and ownership and recognizing those things need limits.
There was no fire today. And we are very lucky and thankful that there wasn’t. But what could have been can teach us many lessons. Many lessons from the mistakes we made in the non fire.