This afternoon, Kaeson went to get a plate from the kitchen cabinet, and in the process, several plates fell from the cabinet and shattered all over the ground. He burst into tears and started apologizing profusely. He felt so guilty for the accident and was afraid he had ruined something important to me.
This poor kiddo is a strict rule keeper and feels terrible if he feels that he has “messed up.” However, we have a “rule” in this house… accidents are truly just that, accidents. We don’t beat ourselves up over something that was out of our control.
We had a quick chat over the fact that I don’t love that my dishes broke, but I know it wasn’t his fault. I was also relieved that it was my Ikea dishes and not my grandmother’s china that is kept in the next cabinet over. I told him that I had dropped and shattered a mug earlier today, and it was an accident, and that that just happens sometimes, but life moves on. I told him that HE and the way HE felt was more important than any object. I don’t like when things break, but it isn’t the end of the world. It didn’t help. He was still upset.
I grabbed another plate from the cabinet and handed it to him. I told him to drop it. He looked at me as though I had lost my mind (that happened a long time ago, but that is old news) and said that he couldn’t. I told him that I didn’t care and I wanted him to see that a broken dish didn’t matter as much as his feelings did. He struggled, not wanting to make things worse.
I took yet another plate, and dropped it on the floor. It shattered. He looked at me with eyes the size of the moon and a dropped jaw. I said, “See, I don’t care about the dish, but I care that you worry about how I feel about you. There will be moments that I am bummed about something, but I will always love you. At the end of the day, the dish doesn’t matter, but you do.” He dropped his plate on the floor. It shattered.
We quickly cleaned out the broken bits of broken plate and vacuumed up the mess. When we were done, he wrapped his arms around me and wouldn’t let go. He just hugged me tight and did his cute hum. When he finally let go, he grabbed my face, kissed the top of my head (since he is now that much taller than I am) and said, “Thanks mom. I needed that. I love you more than a plate too.”
Maybe it wasn’t the smartest or safest object lesson in the world, but it made an impact. Sure, I don’t want my kids to think that our things are not important or that it is easy to replace things. However, it is much more important to me that they know beyond any doubt, that things can be replaced (sometimes expensively,) but that our relationship isn’t.
I think this lesson worked this time.
P.S. Don’t worry… I made sure he didn’t move around and accidentally step on pieces of broken plate. This was done in a controlled environment.