He Chased them around with a Knife!
I want to tell you a story. When our kids were younger, we shared a huge historic home with my sister and her husband. Their kids had grown and moved out and they had the extra space. It was a chaotic and beautiful adventure, many stories come from that house, but this one took place in the kitchen.
My husband and I were upstairs making the bed and suddenly we heard our two daughters, who were 5 and 7, in the kitchen downstairs, “screaming bloody murder,” as my mom would say. Not the loud squealing that could be playful or out of surprise. No, these…these were screams of sheer terror. We tore down the stairs to find our daughters standing on the table shrieking and holding each other, while their 2-year-old brother tried to climb up the chairs from the floor and onto the table. He was screaming, too, clearly terrified, AND he was holding a large, sharp kitchen knife – the kind you would use to cut open a melon.
I screamed “WHAT’S HAPPENING?” and both girls shouted and pointed at their cherubic baby brother, and screamed “He chased us around with a KNIFE! He’s trying to KILL US!!!”
BY now, my husband, had safely disarmed our toddler, and was comforting the child crying in his daddy’s arms, shaken up. I helped the girls down from the table and calmed them enough that I could find out why our previously non-violent cutie pie had turned homicidal.
Here is what we were able to piece together:
Aunt Linda had been cutting a cantaloupe, and had left the knife on the cutting board on the table (bad Auntie Linda!). The girls had been singing and dancing in the kitchen with their baby brother, Benny, as was a regular occurrence in our home. Well, everything was fine, when Benny grabbed the knife and started chasing them around the kitchen screaming. They ran around the island a few times and then climbed up onto the table, then we finally heard their cries for help and showed up. Both girls clearly told the same story, but the timing and motives were slightly off. I asked some questions and was able to figure out a few missing details.
Let me tell you this story from Benny’s perspective.
“There I was, rocking out with my sisters. They’re SO cool! We were singing songs and dancing in the kitchen, and just as I was reaching for the knife Auntie Linda left on the table so I could use it to play the drums, my sisters started screaming and running away. It scared me, too, so I grabbed the knife and ran after them, because clearly something awful was chasing us! They ran faster than me, so I kept running. They climbed up onto the table and I was so scared! They kept saying “He’s going to get us!” It was so scary, and even though I screamed and showed them that I had the knife to get the bad guy, they still wouldn’t help me get up onto the table! It was good thing I had a weapon! Then Mom and Dad came down and they must have scared the bad guy because my sisters stopped screaming.”
This same moment in time can be told two different ways. Both are accurate, both are true. Our girls will always remember it as the time their baby brother chased them around the table with a knife. They are not wrong, but the story is incomplete. I remember it as “the time my 2-year-old son was ready to cut someone to protect his sisters, who wouldn’t even help him up onto the table!
This moment has become an allegory for many situations in life. Sometimes when we think someone means us harm, they are really trying to help, or to save themselves. And sometimes, when we think we’re helping, we may actually BE the madman with the knife.