Answer to a burning question

Anyone who has children or has worked with children can attest that sometimes it’s bewildering how much guidance they require as they navigate each life experience. Despite being intelligent, sentient, instinctive individuals, they also do things that you’d never expect, demonstrating that often what you think they’ll find obvious or intuitive is actually a far cry from their cognizance. A recent example of this occurred last weekend when the kids had asked to make s’mores. They got set up to roast marshmallows over candle flames (I didn’t have it in me to muster up a bonfire) and I spouted off the usual caveats: please do not move the candlesticks, if the marshmallow catches on fire please blow it out away from the candle so you don’t blow out the candle too, don’t hold it so close to the flame that you extinguish it or get wax on the marshmallow, etc. What I didn’t think to include in that etcetera was this: don’t touch the marshmallow with any part of your body after it’s been on fire until it cools down for a few seconds. The omission of that admonition resulted in this:

That lip burn was actually a lot worse than it looks in the photo, which I took the next morning at breakfast, and it was actually kind of a gruesome scene there for a bit, with molten sugar and blistered skin and tears and blood and horrified siblings. Anyway, he rebounded with characteristic grit and figured out how to hold an ice pack inside his mask while he played outside, proclaiming a self-diagnosis of “better” by nightfall.

Sure, there’s value sometimes in “figuring it out on their own” and “learning the hard way” and “not making the same mistake twice” and the school-of-hard-knocks motto of “live and learn”, but it’s also nice to avoid minor traumas if only for the sake of convenience (after spending a good fifteen minutes helping him deal with the injury and getting back on track, I then had to rethink the menu for dinner because the salt and acid involved in spaghetti sauce no long seemed like a good idea).

The moral of the story is this: if you ever wonder, “Do they really need to be told that?” the answer most of the time is “yes”, unless you want to invite s’more drama into your day.

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