We’d set up the step ladder, and she’d climb up and happily measure ingredients and mix pancake batter.
It was a great arrangement. She was fully engaged in meal preparation, and we felt like such great parents, teaching our little girl life skills at an early age!
Then Annemarie became fascinated by the electric skillet.
We warned her that it was “HOT!” That only peeked her curiosity.
We moved it as far out of reach as possible, but if we turned away for a split second, she’d start to climb the counter, one hand outstretched toward the skillet.
We tried everything we could think of to distract her, forbid her, instill a sense of respect in her.
Annemarie’s obsession became an all-out determination to touch the electric skillet.
After many near-misses, we came to the unthinkable conclusion:
Our little girl was going to experience the natural consequences of her curiosity.
The only question was when.
Daniel and I discussed, prayed, and ultimately made one of the hardest choices we’ve ever made as parents: we decided to let her touch it when we were present.
The next morning, we wiped the skillet clean of oil and turned it to the lowest setting. Daniel stood on one side of the ladder; I stood on the other. At a pre-arranged signal, we both acted distracted.
Sure enough, Annemarie’s tiny hands shot toward the electric skillet. Eagerly, she grabbed its sides.
Her triumphant face registered shock quickly followed by pain. She stumbled and, as Daniel caught her, began to cry.
“Hot!” she wailed, pointing to the skillet with reddening fingers. “Hot!”
I dabbed soothing medication on Annemarie’s hands, and we took turns holding and rocking her until she calmed down. After tucking her in bed for a nap, Daniel and I let down our stoic guards and held each other as we cried.
After that experience, whenever we told her that something was “hot” she repeated “hot!” in a voice of respect and gave it wide berth. And her budding fascination with electric outlets completely vanished.
Letting Annemarie touch the electric skillet worked. But two decades later, I still tear up as I tell this story.
I still feel torn between my desire to protect my child from harm and my responsibility to teach her about consequences.
I also better understand God’s heart toward me: always wanting to protect me but also letting me experience the consequences of my disobedience:
“So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God!
True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
the same hand that hurts you, heals you.”
What’s a necessary “shocking” parental choice you’ve made or experienced? What was the motivation behind the choice? What were the results?
My bad mom friend and author of today’s Bad Mom Monday challenge is Cheri Gregory. Cheri has been married to her college sweetheart for over a quarter-of-a-century and has two college-aged kids; she blogs about expectations, “baditude,” and hope at www.CheriGregory.com.