My wife was about to give birth to our third child, and due to a difficult pregnancy, she was on bed rest. That left me to take care of our two sons and to handle domestic duties on my own.
We received a package in the mail from my mother. In it was a pair of pacifiers for the coming arrival. I don’t know why, and perhaps I was correct, but I thought those pacifiers needed to be sterilized and that they best way to do so was to boil them in water. I learned an important truth that day. I never really multitask: I only deal with multiple distractions. I don’t remember what I went to do, but whatever it was, after a while, our oldest son said to me, “I smell something.”
We followed our noses to the kitchen and to a lone pot setting on the stove, bereft of water but with two plastic pacifiers melted to the bottom. It was “palm meet forehead” moment as I said quite loudly, “I’m an idiot.”
My son asked, “Why?”
Frustrated I said, “Because I melt pacifiers.”
Weeks, perhaps months, later, my son was talking with my wife about his imaginary friend, Weasel. He said, “Weasel’s an idiot.”
“Why do you say that?” asked his mother.
“Oh, wait,” replied my son. “He can’t be an idiot. He’s never melted pacifiers.”
In my son’s mind, he had a definition of the word “idiot” and my picture was beside it.
That was about fourteen years ago. Since then, we have added an another child who is now six years old. We have four children in all. Yesterday, I was in my usual Sunday morning routine of getting up early, starting the coffee and sitting down to read the Bible and pray in preparation for a day of worship. So, I carefully measured out the water and ground the coffee beans, put them in the filter and started the pot. As I was reading, I heard the plaintive call of my little girl. On the way to her room, I passed through the kitchen. Had there been blood spread across the floor, I am not sure it would have matched my horror. I had started the coffee maker without putting the coffee pot back in place. Hot coffee was spreading across the counter and falling like Niagara to the floor. I turned off the pot quickly hopping as I felt the hot liquid absorbed by my socked feet. Hearing once again the call of my daughter, I figured that she wanted water, grabbed a cup, put water in it and hurried to her room.
Handing her the cup, I said, “Please drink it quickly. I have a problem in the kitchen.”
The look on her face reminded me of my son’s look as I stood over a smelly pot of melted pacifiers so many years ago. Later in the morning, my daughter asked, “What was your problem?”
I told her about the coffee pot and the mess. Quite possibly, the definition of a problem in her mind has my picture beside it. At least, I am not her definition of an idiot. Well, not yet.