(Throwback Thursday from something I wrote in 2011 before the inception of this blog.)
My eight-year old daughter has been “teaching” since she could utter words. Our basement is complete with white boards, workbooks, and her most prized possession: an overhead projector with genuine second grade transparencies! Everyone from neighbors to Nana’s have taken their turn as students while my youngest directs her wooden pointer at the colorful images on the playroom walls. While always adorable and entertaining, I never anticipated how powerful her lessons could be.
Driving home a few months ago, I was deeply hurt over an unpleasant conversation with someone. For about a mile or so, I explained to my three children how thoughtless the person was and commented, “they acted rude and were very unfair.”
My youngest suddenly yelled from the back seat of the mini van. “Mama! I don’t like that about you!”
What? There’s something my baby doesn’t like about me? Just this morning, I was the best Mama on planet earth and she wouldn’t trade me for a million Webkinz. “What don’t you like?” Foolish question to ask a child who has zero ability to ease the blow which follows.
“When you say unkind things about people.”
Ouch. I swallowed hard, my cheeks turning warm.
Ignoring her mistaken assumption that I was being too harsh on the person, I continued in my sweetest-Mommy voice that my child didn’t buy for a second. “Honey, I’m not being unkind, I’m merely saying…”
My baby interrupted loudly, lecturing me in a series of run-on sentences without taking a breath. “You always say we have to be nice to everyone because we never know if someone is mean because they have a hard life, or maybe something bad happened to them that we don’t know about! You tell us that some kids are nasty because not enough people love on them! You say that we’re supposed to bless mean people with our kindness and that might make them nicer!”
I gripped the steering wheel in silence. I do preach kindness, and most of the time I try to practice grace. But not today. My daughter caught me being unlovely, and I was mortified. Why couldn’t she have noticed one of the million times I chose the noble path and kept quiet? Because disgracing another is never okay and my teacher didn’t let me get away with it even once.
Regardless of the adult issues that my daughter was unaware of, her assessment of my behavior was right on. Her pointer was her tongue and it pierced my heart. As God’s timing would have it, the following Sunday our Pastor happened to be listing ways parents can be good examples for their children. While my daughter had long forgotten the regrettable words, my mother-guilt swelled to the height of Mt. Everest.
As the Pastor began sharing a few things that parents can do to be great role models, my youngest tugged on my shirt, her eyes bright blue and excited. She whispered happily, “just like you, Mama! You do all those things!” I blinked back the tears stinging my eyes, reminded by my teacher that although we Moms may blunder, it’s our better behavior that shines more often than not in the eyes of our children. Thank God!