This story connects to Mother's Day because it embodies how we, as mothers can tend to be emphatic about our commands to our children. And have we ever asked ourselves..."How are our kids perceiving these commands and what fears may they be inciting?"
When I was about 7, we lived in an older home that my parents were remodeling. The plumbing, as well as other areas of the home, was pretty well shot. I remember my dad working under the house, in the crawl space and us kids lying on our bellies, in the closet access staring down at him in the dirt. Pretty exciting!
Well one day my mom said to my sister Mandy who was 4 and me that we are not to flush the toilet that day until Dad gets home to fix something. Sounds simple enough, except that she didn't say it just like that. She said...
"DO NOT...FLUSH....THE TOILET, OR IT WILL OVERFLOW!!!"
And this is my point. Moms, I don't think we understand the ramifications of our tone. What I filled in after that command from my mom was..."AND WE WILL ALL DIE!"
As any normal first born of the family, I took it as my personal responsibility to keep our family safe from what I perceived to be a possible tsunami. This involved following my younger sister around all day to keep her from killing us when she went to the bathroom. I knew she would be our true threat. She was old enough to use the restroom independently yet not old enough to remember this simple, life-saving instruction. I went with her to the bathroom the first couple of times and personally guarded her from the flushing mechanism.
But somehow, after a few hours, she slipped away from my surveillance and entered the bathroom...alone. I remember hearing a flushing sound and my mother screaming "WHO FLUSHED THE TOILET?" The fear of God gripped me and I did the only logical thing possible. I ran to the back door and held the knob. I waited for Mom and Mandy to come running with something like a tidal wave behind them. I knew I would just throw open the door and we could all escape safely... But they didn't come.
I waited for a little while at the door. I didn't really want to leave this secure location, but nothing was coming down the hall. So I went to find them. As I approached the bathroom, I could hear talking about why we don't flush the toilet when there are problems. I rounded the corner into the bathroom doorway to find my mom and Mandy sopping up a puddle of water with a stupid bath towel! I thought to myself This is the threat? This is nothing! We won't even die from it! I walked away and didn't say anything to my mom, but I never forgot that experience.
When I was in my early adult years I told my mom this story and we laughed like crazy. She said she never knew anything about it. I don't know why I didn't tell her at the time. It does make me think about how I present things to my kids. If I give them a strong command, I'll find myself saying things like "It won't kill you, just don't do it because it could hurt you."
I do have to say that I failed on the whole seat belt thing. I wouldn't move the car until they were all belted in. I talked about being in car accidents and that we have to be belted in. After awhile I noticed that my oldest son who was probably 7 at the time would say to his younger siblings. "We have to belt in or we'll be in an accident!"
Thanks for reading. I'm having fun thinking of stories from our family to share with everyone. If you think of a story that relates to this topic, feel free to share! Happy Mother's Day! Amber