“Women like their bathwater scalding hot because it reminds them of where they come from… Hell.” So said my son this morning.
We had been discussing the relative merits of heat as a therapeutic measure and had progressed…or degenerated… to the observation that a woman’s bathwater will often turn flesh scarlet on contact. As a lone woman in a household of men for many years I often ran baths for them… only to hear yelps and curses as they attempted to lower themselves gingerly into the water. Subsequent puddles on the bathroom floor attested to hasty retreats while copious amounts of cold water had been added to mitigate the torture.
Of course, his comment may have had more to do with the batch of smoothie I had just made him. He, of course, dictates the ingredients…I have mentioned before his appalling treatment of perfectly nice fruit and vegetables in these concoctions. I even took pictures of his face while downing the resulting toxic gunge. This time I was too busy patting him on the back as he choked and his eyes watered. I may have been a tad heavy handed with the chilli peppers… but then, he usually manages perfectly well having pretty much undone several million years worth of taste-bud evolution with his passion for chillis and spices. “Put the whole bag in,” he had directed recently… I put a quarter of that in the blender and you could have stripped paint with it…
Sometimes ‘other people’ really do know what is best… I hesitate to write ‘Mums’ here as it would only invite inevitable filial retaliation. It isn’t as if I never get things wrong. I do… often enough. It goes with the territory of being a parent. And human.
With children we have a habit of trying to protect them from making the same mistakes we made, knowing full well, if we are honest, that we ignored our own parents when they tried that one. Mistakes are personal. Most are transient things. Sometimes they burn like chillis… briefly and uncomfortably. Sometimes they burn deeper and leave behind a scar that aches. But they are, after all, part of the process of learning and growing that doesn’t stop just because we become adults and supposedly ‘responsible’ ones at that.
No, we will go on making mistakes for the rest of our lives. And really, this fallibility is a blessing. We gain very little, other than a certain satisfaction, from getting things right. Make a mistake, burn your fingers… or strip the skin from the roof of your mouth with chillis… and you are unlikely to do the same thing again. Though you might come at the same mistake from different angles, time and time again until you learn where the real problem lies.
Because it isn’t always what we think. The visible error is often caused by something far deeper. Like my son’s taste buds; it may not be the chilli that is responsible but an underlying neurological symptom of an older injury. It is the same with us… the outer ‘mistake’ may mask, or stem from, the damage caused by an older hurt or an unresolved shadow in heart and mind. Until we delve deep enough to understand the root cause, we cannot know and may continue to singe ourselves on our own mistakes.
Once you dismantle the elements of any event you can examine the pieces and trace them back to their source and with that understanding comes the possibility of change. You have regained control of a part of yourself and with that comes the ability to choose how you will act next time a similar situation presents itself.
Like… do we really need to put quite as many chillis in the smoothie?