Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crash and Natural Consequences!!! Teaching Real Danger in Real Time.

We all use our senses to tell us what are kids are doing at any given moment in time. We know what it means, when it’s too quiet or too loud. We know the meaning of each scream or cry and the sound of their footsteps on the floor tells us what room they’re in. We use every noise and every combination of those noises to tell us everything our eyes can’t. Most of the time it works great; we hear a noise and we know if troubles a brewin' and if our kids are okay.  This was NOT the case when I heard an unbelievably loud and powerful crash – shattering glass and banging metal - followed by Nicky saying “Uh, oh!” I ran toward the sound having no idea what to expect and there, lying at the bottom of the stairs, was our chandelier, smashed on the stone floor. It had dropped some 15 feet to the ground taking out a marble topped piece of furniture on its way down.  Glass, light bulb parts and pieces of stone were everywhere. Nicky stood at the top of the stairs; uncertain of what to do, but certain something was wrong.
This is how it sounded!!!! 

 In shock, I just said, “Sit…Down”, and ran off to get his sister who I needed to keep me from going to thoughts of what could have been.  What if someone had been walking by? What if one of the dogs had been down below? What if….. and again, what if?

 In a tone so firm it was unfamiliar to Nicky I said “sit"!  Startled he sat right where he stood, on the stairs where he would be safe.  Then I started cleaning up. Once the panic left my face my daughter could see I had begun to recover, and she asked, “What happened?” I shared what I knew which wasn’t much. For years Nicky has liked to toss his blanket off the landing of the staircase onto the chandelier which hangs in a two story high foyer and for years we’ve pulled it off. Until now the only repercussion had been a swinging light fixture, and now the light had literally been unscrewed from its mount in the ceiling. I think slowly over the past 9 years Nicky has been loosening the chandelier from its mount with every throw of his blanket, and finally “Kaa Boom!!!!!!!!!!!”.

 The next decision was to punish or not to punish? Punish was the answer. I’ll never know exactly how the chandelier fell, but I know it fell and I know Nicky saw it fall, probably had something to do with it, and I know he knew it wasn’t a good thing.  So I decided to treat him like I would treat any other kid, and do what every parent does when they come home to find something important broken, hold the kids responsible!  Heck, if this wasn’t a teaching opportunity, what was? Let’s face it, I’m not going to drop chandeliers from the ceiling just to teach him the dangers of playing with heavy hanging objects, so the lemonade from this lemon was no one was hurt, and I could teach him a real life lesson.  So I gave him a serious talking to about the danger of the situation, put him on time out, which resulted in a massive tantrum, which resulted in the loss of his favorite night time activity, 30 minutes on the computer. I was good with that. For those of you who might think I was being too harsh, all I can say is that I’m sure, when I was a kid, I would have been grounded for a year, and threatened with the lifetime loss of a favorite activity for just showing up within 100 feet of the broken chandelier!


  1. Thankfully there were no chandeliers and you and your sisters were, more or less, perfect children so the punishment you envisioned was out of the question! . . . Uh, unless your dad was home. :)

  2. For those of you who couldn't tell the previous comment was from my mom!