Parenting has a way of challenging the most patient among us. It’s not just the singular moments, but rather the accumulation of daily stresses and triggers that push us to the brink.
It is in those moments — when your child just did what you warned them not to, or made the same mistake for the third time that day — that we can choose to rise to the occasion or let frustration get the best of us.
Thankfully, one viral post is giving parents something to reach for, with a powerful example of some excellent parenting in action.
Kalynne Marie tells Babble that she was sitting at a table in the café area of a Target store doing some work, when she noticed a father and son walk in. A few minutes later, the son spilled his slushee drink and began to apologize.
Marie describes the event in her post: “I just witnessed a boy, maybe about 6 or 7, accidentally spill a slushee everywhere,” she says, adding, “I’m talking blue and red goop all over the floor, the table, everywhere.”
Oh man, have I been there. Out in public, people watching, and your child spills the entire sticky, messy, drink that you just purchased for them. The father’s reaction, however, is nothing short of exemplary.
Marie says in her post that after the boy apologized, instead of getting angry, the father replied, “Hey, it happens. Let’s go get napkins and I can show you how to clean it up.” The two then went to get napkins and the father helped his son clean up the entire mess.
Marie explains that she is a single parent raising a 2-year-old son and like most of us, struggles with keeping calm and collected the way this father did.
“As soon as the father started helping his son clean up, I opened the Notes app on my phone and wrote what he said word for word, because I was so inspired by how he was handling the situation,” she tells Babble.
What Marie was able to record next, is something I hope to remember the next time one of my boys has a similar accident. As the two were throwing away the napkins, the dad said to his son:
“You’re going to be a human being for a long time, and you have such a smart brain that it’s important you learn how to be more aware of what you’re doing. So next time just be sure to pay more attention to your surroundings so accidents like this don’t happen. Accidents like these can be prevented, but it’s still okay if they happen. As long as you take responsibility for your mistakes, the clean up is a breeze.”
Later, Marie updates her post to include one more quote from the dad that she overheard before leaving the store.
“I know big messes seem overwhelming and you might feel like you can’t do it by yourself,” he tells his son, “but it’s always okay to ask for help. There is no problem with asking for help when you need it.”
Another great message for a child to learn.
Marie ended her post with this declaration: “I have no words. That is parenting done right.”
And the internet seems to agree with her, as the post has gone viral with over 25K likes. When asked how she feels about the response to her post, Marie says she has been “surprised” and says that this interaction between father and son was inspiring to her on a personal level.
“Being a parent is hard work,” she says. “Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that being a kid is also pretty hard work.”
She is absolutely right. Excuse me while I go hug all three of my children.
As for the father, Marie is hopeful that he will one day know how much he inspired her.
“I hope that he sees this post and realizes how powerful his actions truly were and how much of an impact they had on not only my life, but the lives of everyone who shared his story after me,” she tells Babble. “If he sees this, I just want him to know how thankful I am for that.”
I am thankful as well, to both this amazing father and to Marie, for taking the time to jot down this interaction and share it with others. There is much we can learn from this man. He made the choice to respond with grace, instead of anger, and turned a stressful moment into a teaching moment. And that is parenting at its best.