Flashback Friday. October, 1998. Monumental Parenting Failure
My wife and held a party at our house. The autumn evening was very cool. I don’t remember who the guests were but I know we served Heineken beer. Lots of it. In green bottles.
As it got dark we moved inside to get off the cold patio. Matt, age 4, and Jack, age 2, were around, somewhere.
The “adults” moved inside to the kitchen. That’s where the refrigerator was, the one filled with more Heineken.
During an occasional lull in the conversation (AKA the 20 minute pause) I heard a noise. I couldn’t figure out what it was so I ignored it. Then I heard it again. And again. I whispered “shhhh” to the group.
The sound came from the patio. I went outside, took one step on to the concrete and stopped abruptly.
There was green broken glass everywhere. If the Heineken brewery had been bombed it might have looked like this. The empty bottles we’d left on the patio table where now shattered so thoroughly they were close to being converted back to sand.
After checking for blood and tears, and thank goodness seeing neither, I asked Matt with exasperation, “What are you doing?”
He looked at his little brother with an “Is dad serious?” expression. Jack, an unbroken beer bottle still in hand, seemed confused too.
Matt turned back to me and said, calmly and with a voice so innocent only a young child can do it, “Breaking bottles.”
It was as if the crashing noises, shattered glass and lack of unbroken empties on the table had not been evidence enough for me.
Briefly I was speechless. Then I politely (no, wait - ashamedly) said, “Hey guys, you know what? Let me carry you inside.” I removed their shoes outside so none of the shards of glass could get tracked inside. Once indoors they watched TV for a while like nothing had happened. They were probably tired, having spent all that energy smashing bottles on the patio.
The next morning I shoveled up as much glass as I could then spent the better part of the day using a Shop Vac to pick up the tiny pieces.
And thinking about my parenting skills.