My wife and I recently had one of “those” parenting experiences.
You know the type. It’s a bit exasperating while you’re living it, but later makes you chuckle when you retell the story?
It all started a few months ago, when Jean and I welcomed two children from Colorado’s foster care system into our home. They’re a sister-brother pair, “Chloe” and “Sam.” She’s 4, he’s 3, and they both are great kids. They’re adjusting well to life at the Daly home, and our sons enjoy being big brothers. We also enrolled the 4-year-old girl in a local pre-school.
Our foster parent responsibilities include regularly taking the Dynamic Duo to Denver so they can visit with their biological parents. Jean usually takes the lead – making the hour-plus drive. She meets up with the social worker and mom and dad near a mall and then goes somewhere to hang out while the kids visit.
A couple of weekends ago, I told Jean that I would take the kids for their scheduled meeting. I even convinced Trent and Troy to accompany us, telling them we could go bowling while Chloe and Sam spent time with their parents.
We were nearing the meeting place when I got a text from the caseworker: “I’m so sorry, but the kids’ parents can’t make it today, so we’re going to have to cancel.”
Of course Trent and Troy groaned. “We shouldn’t have come!” they said with typical teenager angst, thinking they had made the long drive for nothing!
I felt bad for them – and the little kids – so I suggested lunch at Chick-fil-A before we headed back towards home. We roll into the parking lot and as I’m pulling into a spot, little Chloe sweetly asks if she can take her stuffed animal – a raggedy-looking bear – into the restaurant with her.
“Of course” I told her, “We’ll get him a glass of water since he’s probably thirsty.”
Famous last words.
We had a fun lunch. I enjoyed some good conversation with the older boys while Chloe and Sam had a blast running back-and-forth between our table and the indoor play area.
We finally started the trek home and were about 30 minutes out when I heard Chloe’s voice from the back seat:
“Um…Mr. Jim? I left my bear at Chick-fil-A.”
I look into the rearview mirror and try to quickly assess the situation. She doesn’t seem too heartbroken, so I take a gamble – “Sweetie, we’ll just call the restaurant and let them know we left the bear. That way we can pick it up next time we’re in Denver.”
I sighed with relief when she seemed content with that answer.
Back home, I casually mention to Jean that next time one of us are in Denver we’ll need to drop by the Chick-fil-A to pick up Chloe’s bear.
Her eyes widened. “Noooooooooooooooo!” she said.
Turns out that bear belonged to the kids’ preschool and it was part of a 20-year tradition. The school gave the bear to the student of the week as a prize, and that student got to take the bear home – and every week, the outgoing honoree presented the bear to his or her successor in a small ceremony.
Chloe had been the previous week’s student of the week – and the ceremony was set to take place the next morning.
Jean was the hero of this story. Early the next morning my dear wife got in the car and made an extra trip up to Denver, bailed the bear out from the Chick-fil-A’s lost and found basket, and drove straight to the pre-school. She made it just in time for the ceremony. The smile on Chloe’s face made the trip worth it for Jean.
Earlier this week, I shared the story with our management team during one of our monthly meetings. All of us laughed together at the silliness of the situation and how often parenting gives us opportunities to sacrifice, grow, laugh and love.
I know I’m not alone in living through this type of experience. I’d enjoy hearing from you – share your “in the trenches” parenting story in the comments below!