A Parenting Lesson

The other day I had a parenting experience I immediately regretted.

One that even as it was occurring I wished was playing out differently.

Almost all events that morning were leading us to be late to school, starting with Gwyneth getting into the car and buckling without any shoes on. It then carried on with the parent who parked behind me at Cal’s school so that I could not leave until she left, and finished by getting behind a school bus that not only had many stops along the way, but that included a parent and bus driver carrying on a long conversation at one of the stops. And as each of these events occurred, I became more and more irritable.

At my daughter’s school, the kindergartners line up on a bench outside under an awning with the supervision of an aid. Once the bell rings, they stand and walk in a line into the building. If students don’t make it into the building with the others in this line, the parent needs to check them into the office and they are tardy.

We have yet to be tardy.

We pulled into the parking lot right as the bell had rung. This is when I told Gwyn to get her backpack and coat ready as she needed to hurry out of the car.

Once parked, I saw the kids start filing into the building.

As the panic started to set in, I told Gwyneth to hurry in a not-so-pleasant voice as the kids were already starting to walk in. She made her way up from the back, and instead of getting out, she kept going to the front of the car to give me a hug and a kiss goodbye.

Instead of greeting her with open arms, I re-directed her to get out of the car with words like, “Hurry! What are you doing! Go! You’re going to be late!”

Basically, shoving her hugs and kisses away.

She insisted and kept going in for more, and all I could see were fewer and fewer students remaining in the line.

More “Go! go! go!” came out of my mouth, and finally she was out of the car.

She barely followed the last student inside the building after running her little tail off, and as I watched her do this I immediately wished she would have been late. That I would have returned her hugs and kisses. That I would have instead re-parked the car and walked her inside, hand-in-hand.

Because is a tardy really a big deal? Is it worth shoving your kid out the door?

No. Absolutely not.

All I could think about was how that would start her day. That she would probably be so thrown off that she wouldn’t be able to focus in the classroom.

I felt awful.

Really awful.

Our normal routine is that I park the car, get out and walk to her side, help her get her jacket and backpack on, we hug and kiss, exchange “I love you’s” and then she takes about five running steps before turning around and flashing “I love you” in sign language, in which I return, before she runs the rest of the way to her classmates.

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Then, when I pick her up, she runs from the building with open arms and takes a leap into mine (a lot of the time almost knocking me over) and tells me the best part about her day was when I picked her up.



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And I absolutely love it. All of it.

Even though sometimes it proved difficult with a big pregnant belly or with all of her snow gear on, I will do it until the day I am no longer physically able to.

I also wonder how long all of this will last.

Will she always tell me she loves me as we part ways? Will she always want to hug and kiss me in front of her classmates? Will she always flash me the I love you sign? Will she always think the best part of her day is when she saw me again? Will she always run into my arms?

Probably not.

And this leaves a huge lump in my throat.

These years are so very precious. She thinks the absolute world of me and is truly loved by my touch and words of affirmation.

When I picked Gwyn up from school that day, I expected her to walk from the building over to me, and tell me her day was just okay.

I was nervous.

But instead, she did as she always does, and she ran up into my arms. I immediately set her down and apologized for pushing her hugs and kisses away that morning, and told her that I would never do that again.

She gave me an extra long hug right there in the parking lot and I knew I was forgiven.

I am learning not to ever take these moments for granted.

Before I know it, they will be gone and I will be longing for them.



  1. Aww! Sorry that it was something you only realized after it happened, but it’s good that you’re soft-hearted enough to let just one incident put the whole goodbye routine into perspective. A tardy in kindergarten certainly doesn’t matter (plenty of people are late to class in college, even, and still graduate just fine. 😛 )

  2. Aww! Sorry you had to experience that in such a stressful situation. Those “goodbye” moments are so important and definitely takes priority over being Tardy. People are late all the time and it seems like your daughter is never late so for that 1 day, I am sure it wouldve been excused.

  3. Oh this made my heart hurt! It’s hard in the moment to see the bigger picture. I bet you were counting the seconds to see that sweet little girl get out of class! Hang in there mama, we are all learning…every stage!! Xoxo

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