The simplest moments can be powerful in the lives of children. As my kids have grown, I’ve been humbled in realizing significant moments really haven’t been elaborate birthday parties or championship games. They’ve often been irrelevant times that become monumental.
In our family, one of these moments came when my first born and I were at a garage sale. After paying for some trinkets, I browsed a box at the end of the driveway marked “free.” I picked out
a cute vase and carried it with the bag of purchased goods to the car.
“Mommy, don’t you have to pay for that?” she asked, then a toddler. I proceeded to explain that it was “free” and it was okay if we took it home. Strapping her in her car seat, I drove down the road only to hear my little girl say, “Mommy, isn’t that stealing?”
I froze in my tracks. While my daughter could not understand the concept of “free,” she did understand what honesty was. In that brief moment, I realized she believed with her whole heart that I had done something wrong.
For her, that moment mattered.
I turned the car around, went back to the garage sale and paid for the item, feeling rather foolish. But I was awakened to the serious call of living honestly before my children. In twenty years of parenting, I’ve been challenged with this reality. I’ve learned to apologize for losing my temper, to admit I’m wrong when jumping to conclusions, and answer hard questions about my own life choices.
I’ve often blown it as a parent. I’m thankful for families I’ve seen who authentically live life well. Not perfect, but well. It provides hope for those of us living in the trenches, trying our best to reflect what we want our children to learn, though we fail. I’m thankful for the few moments where grace overshadows my humanness.
Being honest before my children has been the hardest, but most effect parenting tool I’ve tried. I’ve learned it reaches deep into their soul. I realize each day that the smallest moments in front of my children matter.