When a Tumbler Tumbles

A tumbler of water teeters on the edge of the coffee table in the middle of a busy room. In a flash and a crash, the tumbler tumbles to the floor; clunk. Water everywhere.

In the moment of the fall what did you do? Feel? Think?

Well, of course, as anyone in that position would do I …

My finger raises and I tilt my head to the side calling you to think a moment about starting your answer that way with a teasing scold, “Ah, ah, ah.” Your questioning face studies my knowing grin.

Not everyone would respond the same.

This is a bit of an age old situation given to illustrate a truth.

Some would run for a towel.
Some would tell someone to run for a towel.
Some would reprimand the one who knocked the tumbler over.
Some would look scornfully at the one who caused the interruption.
Some would comfort the one who knocked the tumbler over.
Some would try to turn the incident into a lesson or teaching opportunity.
Some would philosophize.
Some would attempt to diffuse the tension with a quip.
Some would laugh.
Some would ignore the occurrence altogether and change the subject.
Some would alert the children to stay away in case of broken glass.
Some would physically remove the children from the room.
Some would start composing a blog post in their mind.
Some would go on with whatever was happening before.
Some would jump up startled, whether the water spilled on them or not.
Some would apologize, whether they caused the problem or not.
Some would look for a way to get the person who lost their drink a fresh tumbler full of water.

And those are just a few; you probably have a few more to add to the list.

The point is: be aware of the diversity in this world and choose to celebrate it.

A secondary point could be: know thyself.

Combine those two points and we have a wonderful understanding happening.


Here is a fun little exercise I do in my premarital classes. We talk about what values / morals are, where they come from, how and when they are formed, etc. I give them a few examples of values in our society such as: loyalty, ambition, and punctuality. Then I ask them to take a few moments and write down what they believe are the top ten values that govern their personal lives, listed as well as they can from one, the most important, on down to number ten. This is an individual activity so things are quiet for some time as they ponder and write on their sheets of paper. When they feel that they have a good representation of the top items of their moral compass we compare lists.

The surprise is rich! When it is inevitably obvious that this lovely young lady and this honorable young man have very different core values we have a platform for discussing how to mesh these two wonderful personalities into a loving marriage.


So I would like to know… when the tumbler tumbles what is your gut reaction?


15 thoughts on “When a Tumbler Tumbles

      1. if it was at someone elses house i would feel terribly embarrased and try to clean it up as quickly as possible while apologizing over and over.
        if it was at my house, i would say dont sweat it. its just water, it will air dry.

  1. As I read your list of possible responses the one that I felt strongest about was the “alert the children to stay away from the broken glass”.
    Looks like you could do a whole personality study from your blog post!

  2. Another day in the life of Lib! I’d laugh and thank God it’s just water! And praise him some more if it didn’t hit an important electronic gadget!

  3. My first action would be to see if someone was hurt.

    Next, having had a ton of experience with spilling stuff, I must admit I would be relived it was some other klutz, not me, that did the spilling.

    Third my OCD nature would kick in and I would help clean up the mess.

    One of the things I have had to work the most on over the years is my self direct anger. I hated spilling, or braking anything, and my blood pressure would jump through the roof. I have now finally learned not to let stupid, unimportant, mistakes bother me. I have learned to laugh at myself, way better for my health.

    If I ever did consider marriage I would want you to be my counselor, after I saw a psychiatrist to figure out way I am giving up my freedom. :) Of course it would be neat to have someone around to clean up after I spill or break, something. :)

  4. Ah Angie, I confess I have a hard time picking one because I would jump, caution of possible broken glass, get the spiller to grab a towel, look to fill a new glass….
    I was wondering if you teach parenting classes as well as pre-marital classes?

    1. Ha! You are still too cute, Shawn. There is no meaning aside from the fact that I was interested in hearing the diverse ways people would respond to a given situation. Pure fun. :o)

  5. There are so many variables! Like, who caused it to tumble? A child or adult? A member of the family or a guest? Did it fall because of carelessness or an innocent accident? Is there breakage? If there IS breakage, are the people in the room wearing shoes or not?

    Let’s say my youngest accidentally knocks a cup of water off the table and there is no breakage. I will probably simply tell him to go get a towel. I might accompany that with a smart-aleck comment like “Good one!” or “Smooth move!”

    If the cup shatters, I may have to air-lift my son to a safe spot on the floor (or have him stay in his chair) and shoo him out of the room so I can clean it up myself.

  6. I would say “oops!” no matter who did it. I would look to see if the glass is broken. If not, I would pick up the glass and say “its only water and in Turkana it will be dry in a few minutes.” If it is broken, I would clean up the glass and leave the water to dry on its own.

  7. I love fun things to discuss with my hubby. I think I will have him write down his core values tonight. After 18 years we will see if we have any that are the same,HA!

    Honestly I would sigh at the interruption, and tell all the kids to stand back. I would send someone for the broom and find a towel to start the clean up. I usually try to assess the damage first and then send out the troops with a clean up plan. When all the kids were little I would have probably cried. I guess maybe I am making some progress.

    Fun thought experiment, thanks.

  8. I would mentally scold myself for not reacting fast enough to stop it. Then I would send one of my kids – who actually would be moving already – to get towel. They are well enough trained to react by running for something. If my daughter spilled it, I would reach for her to hug her since she would be in tears.

  9. That’s funny – Ah – it depends on how many times in that day it’s already been spilled. I either don’t care, get a towel and teach or in a more irritated way tell the girls to watch what they are doing. OR I’m the one spilling. :)

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