The Soapbox: The Evacuation Plan

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless

Chance favors the prepared mind.
—Louis Pasteur

We live in a time when seekers worldwide are in search of a stroke of lotto luck or chance, but as a Mom, I am trying to instruct my child to live by choice and with a resolute purpose.

It is in the spirit, I write this story of as another reminder of parenting’s design to impact the heart of a child, but also to once again document God’s sense of humor in action as we: 1. Become our parents and do all the things we said we would NEVER do.  2. Realize every time we open our mouths to give instruction, that we are convicted of our own shortcomings.  3. Accept the fact that no matter how prepared we may be, we are DEFINITELY not in control in spite of our most earnest strivings.  I, for one, will go down trying to be prepared anyway.

So, as the story goes, it was the perfect day.  The garden had been fully “de-snaked” and weeded and we all splashed around washing the cars and having outdoor family fun.  Ever since I once found a copperhead nestled in my lantana, everyone has always done the favor of “de-snaking” the garden for Mama.  Yeah buddy.  That day was not a good moment for me.

Later that evening, dinner talk revolved around the meaning of believer’s baptism, an expression of understanding the tenets of the Christian faith that is highlighted in the New Testament.  The flowing waters part always seems to intrigue the heart and mind of every child, especially my son.

Our bedtime prayers had been preceded by thorough inquisitions of the nature of God for at least a couple of years now.  That night in particular, after a long day of being outdoors and battling the so-called garden snakes for Mama, I walked upstairs to tuck him in.

I don’t exactly remember how we got from the subject of believer’s baptism to that of reviewing the family fire evacuation plan just before I was to kiss him goodnight.

What can I say?  I am my mother’s daughter.  We like to think of everything that could possibly happen and provide well-crafted solutions in advance of any conundrum, just in case.

So, having a two story home, our family safety plan in the event of evacuation due to fire went something like this:  Open your second floor window and get out of the house.  There is a tree nearby that can be used to leverage a small body down to the ground.  Mama will come around and get you.  Dont go through the house.

Being the imaginative kid he was, my son begins to ask about his artwork.

“What about my artwork?  Shouldn’t I gather up my collections before jumping out of the window?  What about my trophy?”

“Son, there is nothing in this house that is more important than you.  So, no, if the house is on fire just get out.”

His negotiating skills took it up a notch as tears welled up and glazed his eyes, “But Mom, couldn’t I just get my trophy? I love my trophy.”

It was late. It had been a long day in the garden.  My patience with the negotiating process was not only running dry, but I plain just didn’t feel like taking the time to explain it all again.  So at that very moment, the best response I could spout out went a little some like…

“Son, if you go back into the burning house to collect your artwork, collections, or trophies you will get burned up in the fire.  Now goodnight. I love you!”

It was at that point that weeping and wailing ensued. “I’m gonna burn in the fire! I’m gonna burn in the fire!”

My husband downstairs assumes we were still having the talk about baptism and calls out, “Okay Mama. I think that might be a little much for tonight.”

I rubbed my little man’s back as he returned to placidity and was drifting off to sleep. Just when all was quiet and I felt I was able to tiptoe downstairs, he lifted his head one last time: “Mama, you know I just can’t jump out of the window if that snake is living in the garden down below.”

“Good night, son.”

“Good night, Mama.”

At that moment, I not only realized that the events of this night contained not one, but actually two, evacuation plans every family should have, and as usual, parenting brings more introspection to our lives than we could have ever imagined.  All too often, the teacher becomes the student of lessons that no amount of preparedness can overcome.  Whether it be the art of providing instructions for life, answering the questions of the curious little mind, or just spending time at home together, we parents do our very best to prepare our children for everything they will face, in the hopes that someday they will spring up like a well-watered tree that yields fruit in due season.

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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