We have a standing house rule that liquids don't leave the kitchen and dining room area (without special dispensation) and glasses don't leave the kitchen and dining room area (without special dispensation). This has been the rule since before he was born, and he should know it. I told him to get rid of the glass of ice water right away.
At this point, my 9 year old son wanted a glass of apple cider, which he poured at the dining room table into a very tall glass (most of you can see where this post is going). I hear a "clunk" and dash into the dining room, where the apple cider has spilled all over the table. My son has placed a bunch of napkins in the center of the spill and is pushing them around, sending waves of apple cider onto the carpet and the stack of cookbooks that are on the table to start or Christmas baking (which we never did due to this and other interruptions).
I'm upset, but that's just phase one. As I'm grabbing towels trying to contain the spill I hear another "thunk" coming from the living room. My 12 year old has dropped his (rented) saxophone on the glass of ice water, which exploded and threw shard of glass in a 7 foot radius circle around him. He, of course, is barefoot. His sax is dented and scratched. There is glass embedded in the carpet, sofa, saxophone and everywhere.
So I lost it. I totally lost it. I yelled and yelled. It was like I was standing next to myself, listening to a raving lunatic screaming, but I couldn't stop. I can't recall having ever been that angry before. I sent him to his room (the 9 year old had already slunk up to his room while I surveyed the damage) and continued my litany of anger over the next half hour or so as I washed and dried books and the table, tried to soak cider stains our of the carpet, picked up shards of glass in places I didn't even know existed, and vacuumed the carpeting four times (until I couldn't hear any more bits of glass being sucked up).
At the end of it the two boys were still in their rooms. I stopped off at the 9 year old's room first, and explained to him that I wasn't angry at him at all, his spill was an accident. He said he already knew that. We talked about strategies like only filling tall glasses half full so they don't spill so easily. That was the easy part.
Then I went to my 12 year old's room. I held him. What could I say? He is old enough to know the rules. Even if not, I told him not five minutes before to move the glass of ice water, and he ignored me. Because of that he might have been seriously hurt. The sax is just money but he and his brother are irreplaceable. How do I explain this to him?
For that matter, how do I explain why even after I knew he was unhurt I screamed and yelled like a maniac? Can he understand the adrenaline that pumps through your veins when a calamity happens, even if it's only a near calamity? Do I explain the frustration a father feels when everything goes wrong, at the same time? How sometimes fathers are not perfect and behave like children? Do I talk about responsibility and duty? Sin and redemption?
In the end all I can think to say is "I love you."