Sassy doesn't start pre-school until next week, so she is staying with family until her year starts. I've always taught at my girls' school, so I'm spoiled in terms of having access to them whenever I want/need them for something. Sassy's new pre-school is close by, but I won't be the one to drop her off at school, or pick her up, either, and I'm really struggling with that.
As a teacher, I shamefully confess to judging the parents (really, the mothers--'cause that's what we women do) of my students who can't come to parties, ceremonies, etc. because of work or other issues. I also pass judgment on the quality of my students' lunches, their hair, and their parents' ability to make sure forms, permission slips, and the like get to school in a timely manner. In my total lack of humility and love for my fellow man I pat myself on the back for dotting all those i's, crossing all those t's, and looking to the world like a responsible, on-top-of-it mother.
This afternoon after school, my husband was mowing the backyard, and I was getting dinner together. Sissy was in her room, and last I'd checked, three year-old Sassy was in the living room watching TV. The doorbell rang, and I went to the front door, irritated and convinced it must be someone selling something. There stood my neighbor from down the street, holding Sassy's hand. She had gone out the open garage door (my husband left it open when he took out the lawn equipment) and wandered, barefoot and stringy-haired, 6 or 8 houses down to the cul-de-sac at the end of our street. My neighbor just happened to be outside with her kids and recognized Sassy. Since she has some speech issues, nobody would have been able to understand her if they'd asked her name, and I'm not altogether sure she could pick her house out of all the houses on our street.
If she'd wandered the other direction, she would most likely have been hit by a car, as we live just off the very busy main street into our neighborhood.
My neighbor was very kind, and didn't seem to judge me as harshly as I judge others' parenting skills. In her position, I'm sure I would have dropped off the errant child and thought to myself "Hmph...she should really keep a better eye on her kids." What a fool I am to think that my children are somehow immune to accidents or worse, simply because I manage to look like a "good" parent.
One of my favorite pastors once remarked "Being able to discern others' shortcomings is not a spiritual gift," but we often act like it is. Or I do, anyway. Maybe today has taught me to be a little more compassionate, a little more humble, and surely more thankful for the two precious girls with which God has entrusted me. In the meantime, this: