When Kids make Expensive Mistakes

Parenthood is always an adventure. A toilet stopped working, and we figured a kid flushed something. I inquired if anybody flushed a wet-wipe or anything that wasn’t TP/the usual, but made sure to spin the inquiry “that would help mommy and daddy know what we need to do to fix it. Whatever it is, we won’t be upset when you tell us.” That, for me, is a tall order–to stay calm when possibly costly damage has been done (plumbers here are like $300 a pop). I want to keep my word though, so when the guilty party’s head bent forward and face puckered, I knew something interesting was coming.

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I was pulled into the playroom for a private conference. “Mommy” I heard in a whisper…”I thought since it was paper, it would dissolve like paper. I put a paper cup down there. And then it wouldn’t flush right.” I explained, “Yeah, that is because of the wax coating, Dixie cups are meant to contain water for a while without leaking. It might not dissolve for a long time.”

I have definitely struggled with being calm when it comes to things like this in the past. I would get angry because “They know better! We’ve told them before not to flush other stuff!” and like I said the cost. I have known kids learn life lessons better when they don’t feel shame or anger towards them, but my reactivity is only recently lessened enough to be an effective communicator with them. In family systems counseling our therapist encouraged us to approach conflict with each other with a desire to know about the other’s thinking rather than judgment. Easier said than done in the heat of the moment. But there are firsts for many things. My hubby was in awe that I was able to thank the kiddo for being honest and empathize with the reasoning behind it. “Oh, you were curious what would happen?”

I told my husband I think that at least at this stage/age not too much would surprise me (worse tomfoolery by kids has been done in our household), so my overreacting tendency may finally be wound down. MAYBE I am ready for another kid? (Well, ready or not, due mid-May!) Wondering about the plumbing outcome? A week later, and it did not dissolve/resolve. PTL we did not have to pay for a plumber. My usually strictly computer-fixing hubby got a drain snake out and now we’re back to flushing freedom. I call this situation a total family win.

So my friend, if you have kids that often or occasionally exasperate you and you can’t seem to stay calm despite reading all the self-help books or memorizing applicable passages, may you find encouragement from a fellow hothead; I once thought I would never be able to stay calm as well. Sometimes it just takes a while to reduce our stress levels, mental loads, and learn what we need to know to change our core beliefs and reactive (wounded?) hearts, but keep trying.

This instagram post by raising_yourself was encouraging to me the other day:

You will improve if you put your mind and will to it. Progress over perfection! It does make a difference in your family’s peace even if you don’t get it right 100% of the time. Blessings to you on your journey, friend.


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