At least we did one thing right

Ever have a day (or a string of days, or a week) when it feels like you can’t get a single thing right? I found myself in a deep parenting rut as we hit the final few days of summer. The kids were fighting. Everyone was antsy but no one could agree on something we could do together as a family. Outings we tried were stressful and exhausting. I wanted so badly to enjoy summer’s last hurrah, but found myself counting the minutes until the school bus arrived.

Apparently the kids didn’t feel the same way. As I tucked the kids into bed Sunday night, I found Clara in tears. She was nervous about first grade. But mostly, she was really, really sad summer was over. “It was the best summer EVER,” she told me. “And I’m afraid I will never have a summer this fun again!” It’s all about perspective, right?

As we got ready to face the new school year, I gave them a few standard reminders about making a great first impression on their teachers and principal. And I repeated a reminder that Ian and I have tried very hard to hammer into their psyches: If someone looks like they are all alone, getting picked on or ignored, it’s your job to be their friend. Help them out. Make their day easier.

So after a week where I felt like I was doing everything wrong, I really needed to hear what Clara told me about her first day back to school: A new girl showed up to class in tears. Her mother pointed out Clara, and told her daughter, “That girl looks nice, why don’t you sit with her?” Clara rose to the occasion, taking the new friend under her wing until there were no more tears – only fits of laughter together at lunchtime.

“Clara! You did a great thing,” I told her, noticing the way she stopped and listened to this unexpected praise. “You were a friend to someone who really, really needed a friend.” I told her how proud I was. I gave her a high five.

For all our faults as parents, I am so grateful to have this evidence that we have done one small thing exactly right.

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