The nicest thing about writing this column is the people I meet and when they share one of their special moments with me. I often ask if I can share it with you. One of my favorite stories came from Lucy Shields, from Bethany.
Shields told me of an experience she had 40 years earlier that taught her an important life lesson in parenting.
Shields, a young mother of a 1-year-old, and another young mother and her 3-year-old daughter were sitting on tall stools, side by side at a soda fountain — sitting, talking and sipping cherry limeades.
Suddenly the 3-year-old spilled her drink. Her face quickly clouded over with embarrassment, and tears ran down her cheeks.
Without changing the tone or tenor of her voice, her mother quietly said, “Oh, my goodness, let’s quickly clean this up together so we can get you another one.”
Shields watched as the child’s face softened and a smile broke through her tears.
“The way that mother reacted to her child shaped the way I treated my own children,” Shields told me.
That story is a reminder to pay attention to the sound of my voice and the expression on my face when a child — or an adult — makes a mistake.
That is why I took a snapshot of a traffic sign posted on the corner of Mickey Mouse’s house in Disneyland when visiting there a few years ago with two young granddaughters. It read: “Wrong Turn Okay.”
All of us can recall times when we made a mess or took a wrong turn and those persons who were there to help us clean it up and start over.
Having been on the receiving end of that kind of grace, let’s be quick to pass it on to someone else.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.