It was the kind of summer hot that had you holding the steering wheel by the tips of your fingers with the air conditioner blasting out desert heat on high. I had finished listening to an inspiring presentation in a frigid cold room and was on my way to pick up our younger son from childcare. As a young mom I was grateful for the input that fed my soul and restored vision. But now it was time to switch gears, and just like the temperature change, I was mentally preparing by replacing my seminary hat with my mommy hat.
We were in Fort Collins, Colorado attending our biannual staff conference with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) which boasts the largest childcare in the nation of over 1100 kids for ten days every other summer. The preschool kids met at one elementary school and the grade school kids at a different school. After I collected his crafts and clicked Michael into his car seat I headed over to pick up his older brother at the other school several blocks away. As we drove Michael recounted his day. Then his voice got quiet and serious.
“Mommy, today one of the girls was put in time out.”
“Oh really? What for?”
“She said a bad word.”
We drove along and when we stopped at the red light I heard over the blasting air conditioner from the back seat,
Well. gulp. I hadn’t been down this road before. My mind scanned through in a split second every parenting book I read up to that point. I remembered something about being honest and straight forward and helping our kids know we parents could be trusted and would shoot straight if they ever had questions about anything in life.
So I looked into the rearview mirror and asked,
“Do you know what that word means?”
Deep breath. I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.
“Well, the word is shit. It means poop. But it isn’t a nice way to say poop. So that’s why she was put in time out.”
We drove along. I looked again into the rearview mirror. He was gazing out the window up at the tall trees lining the streets.
Then at the next stoplight I heard from the back seat,
Chalk it up for another nomination for “Mother of the Year.”
Parenting. So humbling.