wow

You know that moment when your children, feeling compelled toward neither grace nor gentle tact, remind you of a lesson you’ve taught them?

That moment in which, if you are able to shed the defensive armor of, “Because I’m the mom, that’s why,” you are humbled, grateful, and better – Oh, so much better – than you might have been?

That moment when you are held accountable for your own hypocrisy and there is truly only one right answer to the unyielding earnestness of youth – “Thank you, my love. You’re absolutely right.”?

That.

– Diary’s Facebook status yesterday morning

On Monday afternoon, I took part in an e-mail exchange that left me frustrated. Very frustrated. Very, very frustrated. Staring at my screen, F-bomb dropping, “What the @#!% is wrong with people?” frustrated.

On Monday night, Katie hung out with me in my room for a few minutes before bed. Luau came in and sat down and while Katie was immersed in a text conversation, we started chatting about the day. I told him about the email exchange. The tone of the story as I told it fell somewhere between incredulous and indignant with a side of ridicule.

Luau was on board. “Wow,” he said derisively. “People are … wow.”

“Right?” I asked, my voice undoubtedly three octaves higher than necessary. “Right?”

Katie spoke up. “Don’t “Wow”,” she said. “You don’t know the whole story.”

I turned to her.

“Huh?”

“Maybe he didn’t understand,” she said.

I chuckled haughtily. “CLEARLY, he didn’t understand,” I said.

“Mama,” she said, “maybe he doesn’t speak English well. Or maybe he has trouble reading. Or, well, lots of things. But don’t, “Wow,” if you don’t know the whole story. And it sounds like you definitely don’t know the whole story.”

How many times have I said those words to her? How many times have I told her not to rush to judgment, to rein in frustration with those who might have challenges she knows nothing about?

How many times have I … been guilty of precisely those sins?

“You’re right, Katie,” I said. “Thank you.”

She was clearly unimpressed by my response.

“Mama, just think, if Brooke asked a question online someday and it was weird or seemed dumb or whatever, would you want someone to go, “Wow, ..”

“I got it, kiddo,” I said.

“Just making sure,” she said. “Don’t, “Wow,” when you don’t know the whole story.”

“I got it, Katie,” I said. “You’re right. And thank you.”

Wow.

IMG_2295

Katie – daughter, student, jester, teacher, sage

{image is a photo of Katie in ‘Sconset last summer. She is wearing my sunglasses and voguing for the camera. She looks both 25 and very, very thirteen.}

10 thoughts on “wow

  1. One of the biggest lessons my parents taught me was that they weren’t always right and they could admit it. I can’t tell you how memorable it was to have them say, “I made a mistake. I was wrong and I’m sorry.” It was a lesson that spoke volumes to me about how to be wrong and how to correct it. I love that you are open to that as a parent, and that your daughters are comfortable enough in your relationship to tell you when they think you’re wrong.

    • Re the photo: That’s Katie? No. That’s a mid-20s model trying to look like she’s 18. Wow! (Can I say wow if I don’t know the whole story?)

  2. I remember (oh, and recently, too) when my daughter taught me those lessons, as well. I also remember when you were sent out for “time-outs” as a very little girl and you would often come to the top of the stairs to say, “I don’t think this one was fair”. Often, we said that you were right and you won the debate.

    Katie is so much like you!

    Love you,
    Mom

  3. Amazing. I pray I can raise my future children half as amazingly as you have with these girls. And yes, you have. I have learned more about the ‘right’ way to parent from reading your blog than an entire child care degrees worth of classes has taught me. Yes, I realize you are human and you make mistakes, but it seems like you make the best of them. Your already incredible young ladies are going to grow up to be so much more.

  4. You’re kiddo is pretty amazing. But you are, too. Parents who are strong enough and confident enough, and who listen enough to their kids and are willing to apologize when they are wrong – and all parents are wrong sometimes – are a special kind of parent.

    Your kids are very lucky. (hug!)

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