My 7-year-old is smart, clever, and sharp as a tack. He doesn’t miss much. When adults are talking, he wants in. He wants to know what adults are saying, what everything means, and how things relate to his world. (This description makes me picture an always-proper kid wearing glasses, button-up shirt, bow-tie, and neatly combed hair. That is not my son. He’s a typical 7-year-old boy who likes ridiculous jokes, gross things, and sports. He’s my Athlete.)
One evening, I was cooking dinner as my Athlete was finishing up his homework nearby.
I was cooking hamburgers in the oven. I had them under the broiler. It was pretty fatty meat, so the grease was splattering quite a bit. I checked on the burgers, thinking they should be getting close to done. When I opened the oven door, I was met with flames. Don’t picture this:
The flames were small, limited to the tray that the burgers were sitting on. It was a small flame. It was manageable.
I knew exactly what to do. I didn’t panic. I just calmly said aloud to myself, “Oh my. I’ve got a fire.”
Those words put my Athlete into action. He rose from his chair and said, “Whoa!”
I wasn’t moving super fast. I was trying to get hot pads out and get the tray out of the oven.
My Athlete watched quietly for a minute. Then he boldly and confidently said, “You have to cover it with something.”
In my mind I said in a snippy tone, “I know! I’m getting to it!” But my lips stayed shut tight.
I grabbed a nearby lid and covered the flame. It took a few moments, but the fire went out.
Then my Athlete said, “Aren’t you glad I was here and could tell you what to do?” He smiled.
My knee-jerk reply was this: “I knew what to do, thankyouverymuch!” I started to say it, but I paused. I looked at my proud Athlete and said, “Yes! Thank you so much for your help! You’re so smart! Where did you learn how to put out a grease fire?” I gave him a much-deserved high-five.
His face was shining. He smiled big. We talked for a few moments about fire safety and where he learned how to deal with a grease fire.
Moments later, we were laughing about it all. I said, “Hey, Athlete, remember that time that dinner started on fire?” He laughed. “Hey, remember that time that Mom burned dinner?” *sigh* I laughed.
I’m not a perfect mom. I let things fly out of my mouth and give knee-jerk reactions more times than I would like to admit. The thing about this story that my son will remember is “that time that Mom started dinner on fire.” And it will be a great story for many years. What I will always remember is the look on my son’s face when I gave him credit for knowing what to do. I didn’t smack down his intelligence for my pride. I made myself humble and let my Athlete win. The joy in my home remained, so the story of “how mom started dinner on fire” will always be one told with laughter.