Near the best park in town is a pond. When the girls were younger we couldn’t leave the park without stopping at the pond to seek treasures. Bug, four at the time, was timid and never got too close. Bird though is curious and adventurous. I uttered the obligatory warning about not getting too close and slipping. But I didn’t tell her stop right there….it wasn’t deep and a little mud never hurt anyone. For once, I actually had a towel in the car too.
|How close can we get, Mom?|
Bird failed to heed my warning. Her foot slipped on pond slime and up jumped splatters of mud onto her face and shirt. It wasn’t a lot of mud, but I was in a good mood and burst into laughter. Bird looked at me with a teenager glare and stamped her little foot and yelled, “It’s not funny.” She couldn’t handle people laughing at her lately.
Unable to stop laughing, I lay back in the grass with Bug and we broke into fits of giggles. Other than the scowling, muddy child trying to kill us with her laser vision, it was fun. Finally, I sat up and said to Bird, “Look at yourself. You can be angry at us for laughing. You can be angry at the mud for splashing. But it takes more energy and feels a lot worse than laughing. When people laugh at you, they aren’t always making fun of you, Babe. Sometimes we all mess up and it is just funny. Laugh.”
Possibly for the first time, Bird turned her grimace into a smile because she actually understood my words.
The lesson that day is one Bird has referred to frequently as she runs-by with friends, laughing. “Mom, I am so glad I learned to laugh at myself.” I still shake my head in amazement at the simplicity of it all. Some lessons are hard for my girls to grasp; this one felt like handing her gift.
This was one of my good parenting days where my priorities were straight, my words were patient, and my daughter’s heart receptive. We can’t create such life lessons. And there are so many little lessons like this we want to teach. We can only wake up each morning and pray that God will prepare us with the actions and the words to teach when the opportunity presents itself.