We were loading some grands into the car for a long weekend at our house when one of the girls handed me an envelope containing cash. “Mom says this is for accidentals.”
I asked if she meant incidentals and she said, no, she thought her mom said it was for accidentals.
Naturally, your first thought is: I wonder what they plan on breaking? Furniture? Dishes, maybe?
Hopefully, not one of their bones.
Or one of my bones.
But this isn’t a group that tends to wreak havoc.
That said, there are components of our larger group that would put my mind at ease if they did arrive with small claims policies in tow. Flashbacks of certain individuals falling off the porch rail, scaling trees and running barefoot on aging, uneven sidewalks swiftly come to mind.
I texted our daughter asking how wild she thought the weekend would be that she needed to send money for accidentals.
She texted that it made sense now. When she handed off the envelope, the girl had said, “You mean this money is for if we break something?”
Her mom said, “I guess, or if you want to go out for pizza.”
Breaking the back on a sofa is one thing and getting pizza is another. You’d think some clarification would have been in order.
Not long after the kids unloaded at our house, a basketball game commenced in the driveway. Naturally, this was followed by an injury.
I compared the injured ankle to the uninjured ankle. They looked similar, although the injured ankle was hot pink and starting to puff up a bit. The money for accidentals would not have covered a trip to the ER, so I declared it an incidental.
We put ice on it. Ice is free. (There would still be money for pizza.)
Ten minutes later the kid was back in the game. It truly had been an incidental.
Score one for Grandma.
Someone asked the difference between an incidental and an accidental.
“Why? Are you planning something?” I asked.
No, she just wanted to know.
There is actually a lot of overlap. Neither an incidental nor an accidental is planned, but an incidental usually has minor consequences while an accidental has more serious consequences. An incidental usually results in relatively small expense, while an accidental often results in significant expense.
There was yet another incident in which an old, heavy blind above a double-wide window fell and left a small knot on someone’s forehead. There was no significant expense involved as the better half rehung it in the brackets, announcing it wouldn’t fall if people used the correct technique for raising it.
A lively discussion ensued as to whether we should replace the old window blind or instruct everyone who enters the house on correct technique for raising it.
We were unable to classify the event as incidental or accidental, although the child clobbered by the blind classified it as painful.
We came to a consensus that what really mattered was that we still had money for pizza.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Send comments to [email protected].