The Ripple Effect

An act sets something in motion, an effect. Sometimes the acts are kind or gentle, such as a hug; to calm, to bolster or to say, “I love you.” We can observe the reactions and effects of that act—in the posture, emotional engagement or a rewarding smile.

Acts resulting from displeasure, defiance or anger have other effects or consequences, often unforeseen. Sometimes it takes someone getting hurt to understand that there was truly a reason for implementing and sticking to the expectation or rule. Rules don’t exist “just because.” They exist for restraint, control and safety, often based on much consideration. Such is the case in our family.

Punishment is not necessary if the “offender” has a conscience. The fact that someone has been hurt by another’s lack of following through (another type of act—the non-act) should be sufficient. Observing the emotionally or physically injured party is a constant reminder of a job not well-done, or as known within our family, done “half-assed.” A reminder of inconsideration.

And so it was that I was the recipient of inconsideration, of one of my children’s (the-one-who-shall-not-be-named) half-ass job of filling the dishwasher. Upon checking the status of the dishwasher the other day, I found the utensil baskets to be littered with vegetables—corn, green beans and carrots. You know, a little bit is okay; one-third full is not. We have an industrial strength dishwasher, necessary for a family of six, but it isn’t going to grind down and dispose of a half-bag of mixed vegetables during the rinse cycle.

The vegetables and crammed-full dishwasher screamed of, “I don’t want to do this.” (I saw and understood the message, my child. But guess what. I don’t care. Last I knew, you where a member of our family and therefore responsible for pitching in on chores and doing other “memberly” things.)

A long slender ice tea spoon seemed like an easy and safe way to get the vegetables out without unloading dirty dishes. I thought…

Pots and pans do not go into the dishwasher.

Neither do knives.

Focused in my task of cleaning out the veggies, I did not see that large serrated Cutco knife (it can cut anything) in one of the over-stuffed baskets, next to the basket handle. Blade out, point up. The knife went ripping into and across my finger and knuckle, like butter, well before what I’d done registered. The knife stopped only because it hit bone. Blood began to gush out and I tried to stop it with pressure under cold water, while struggling not to faint. (The sight of blood makes me woozy.)

One of my neighbors bound my cut tightly enough so that I could make it to the doc-in-the-box. The nice doc numbed me up good and insisted I look inside my finger and knuckle after he had staunched the bleeding and before he closed the wound. It was…interesting, taking me back to my graduate days in osteology. Then the doc mumbled something about the tendon involvement. Did I remember about tendons? (Yes.) Unfortunately, I needed to see a hand surgeon (who later declared that my tendon would heal without surgery since the cut was vertical). Yippee.

The doc began to stitch me up. Mother’s Guilt washed over me as I dialed friends on my iPhone, intermittently snapping pictures of the doc’s fine handiwork, asking for help in ferrying my crew safely home from various activities.

The accident could have been worse; one of the kids could have been involved, suffering something worse than a nicked tendon and multiple stitches. I again revisited “the rules” with my crew during dinner the other night, while eating haphazardly with my splinted hand:

Pots and pans do not go into the dishwasher.

Neither do knives.

As one of the kids started to call the guilty sibling out, we “shushed” her. This child will remain unnamed. We all know.

Heartfelt apologies matter. Forgiveness is just as important. Seeing my child’s conscience at work, being aware of what was supposed to be done and why, is enough for me. Well, that and the fact that doing dishes will be the primary chore for this child for some time to come. I doubt the effort will be half-assed. I might even have this child help me take the stitches out next week.

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2 Comments

Filed under Parenting, The International Mom

2 responses to “The Ripple Effect

  1. You’re the first non-family member I know to call it a doc-in-the-box too…

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