My wife and I were excited. We were going to end our day by taking our kids to the neighborhood pool. Work had been rough, the temperature seared the atmosphere just below 100 degrees, and the kids, who had been cooped up inside all day, needed to get out and release some energy. My youngest daughter had recently gotten over her fear of going in the big pool without her protective flotation vest. She was so excited to show me how she could swim by herself. My wife prepared dinner early so we could get to the pool and enjoy the last moments of the day as a family. It looked like a fine ending to a long day.
Unfortunately our hopes were about to be dashed by an “incident”.
We had all been in the pool for just about 90 seconds when the lifeguard blew her whistle and told us to get out of the pool. There was an “incident” in the water and they were going to have to close the pool for the rest of the day.
First of all, I was wondering what sort of “incident” we were talking about. There are different degrees of “incidents”. Did someone pee in the pool? I can live with that; it happens. (Be honest, you’ve done it too). Was a mobster found in the deep end tied to cement blocks? (You never know). This would be a more concerning “incident”. Did an old man’s toupee get trapped in the filter? This is not a serious incident, (except maybe for the old man). Did JAWS somehow take up residence by the diving board? Then we’re going to need a bigger boat. Did someone with Ebola wander into the pool? I need to know so I can run home, get my Hazmat suit, disinfect my children, and burn my clothes. Parents can handle “incidents”, but we need to know what sort of “incident” we’re dealing with. (Can I get an amen?) Obviously the lifeguard was inexperienced in communicating about “incidents”, or she would have been more specific. Without knowing the details of “the incident”, my wife and I naturally assumed we now all had malaria and wanted to rush home as quickly as possible and bathe our children in Lysol.
The kids were devastated. We had managed to get in the water for just under 200 seconds and now we had to get out, dry off, and go home. They couldn’t quite understand what had happened, what an “incident” was, and why this “incident” was ruining our day. Tears were shed, whines were heard, and they all sulked, (justifiably so), back to the van.
So what? How do we handle this?
Our kids need to know sometimes things will happen which are out of their control. It’s nobody’s fault, really. Sometimes they will just get disappointed. It’s our job as parents to help them understand life isn’t always fair, but we can help them learn how to respond well and not let “incidents” ruin their day or their attitude.
As parents we know, as the saying goes, “stuff happens”. Our kids will ruin family portrait day. The dog will throw up all over the new couch. The dinner you planned can go up in flames, (sometimes literally). It’s our job to redeem the incidents of our lives and make something good out of the bad times.
In our case we all took hot showers with extra soap, (hey, you never know), and got ice cream. Ice cream can redeem even the worst of incidents. Maybe in your case you buy pizza when your wife burns dinner, give your son a hug when he strikes out at baseball, or use the dinner prayer time to remind your family of God’s goodness after a horrible day. Incidents will happen in our lives. How you and I respond to, and redeem those incidents for our good and God’s glory is the challenge for us all.
P.S. I recommend two scoops of vanilla bean, prayer, and a good Hazmat suit.