Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's not about the egg...

The other day my daughter, who was home with us for a few days, decided she would be very helpful and get her own breakfast.  She decided on a boiled egg and toast.  Instead of waiting for me to be in the kitchen with her, she thought she would do it anyway because after all, she was 27 and knew-how-to-boil-an-egg for-heavens'-sake.  We have gas hobs, one which is quite large and three smaller ones.  She lit the larger one and put on a small saucepan to boil the water.  As she was doing this, the flames which were high up around the small pot, singed her sleeve and burned her wrist.  Not badly, but enough to make her yelp.

When I arrived in the kitchen and saw what had happened, I naturally told her in no uncertain terms that she knew she was NOT to cook anything, that she KNEW she was not to touch the gas hob, or to even be in the kitchen without me.  She exclaimed that she "knew how to boil an egg and that anyone would know how to do such a simple thing."

"It's not about the egg", I said.  "It's about everything else - it's about thinking about what you are doing, it's about thinking of the consequences, it's about safety, it's about knowing exactly what you are doing!"

"Well", she said, "I didn't know the flames were going to burn my jersey, did I?" 

Which is exactly what it's all about - it's about the dysfunctional versus the functional.  It's about the "islands of intelligence" that our kids all have, but the lack of connecting bridges.  And it's this, that makes it even harder for them... so many of our adult children are quite capable of doing things for themselves, and resent being told what to do.  But so many of them, with their concrete thinking patterns, think only about the "egg" and not about what might happen if something goes wrong.

We have to out-think them all the time, be one step ahead, imagine all the possibilities, particularly all the things that might go wrong.  All the time, every day.  They can't do it themselves.

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