Actions Speak Louder Than Slush

Actions Speak Louder Than Slush

In another one of our Wordy Wednesdays, I’m sharing a story first published November 25, 2008 on One Generation to Another. No one said parenting would be easy, but it is often the most innocuous situations that prove to be the most challenging. In this story a lesson was learned by both my son and myself. I hope you enjoy! 

Let me set the stage… late afternoon, a Saturday in December, a snowstorm…no, a slush storm… and (insert ominous music here)… THE MALL.

The principle characters…
me: an extremely exhausted mom
boy: my 9 year old son that just finished up his Christmas shopping.

The plot… after an exhausting but productive shopping spree, mother and son battle the elements and make what must be a four mile trek out to their car. It seems for the holidays The Mall annexed property in the next county to accommodate the hordes of shoppers. Having procured the WORST possible parking spot in the whole lot, tired mom sits in her seat and starts the car. She kicks the heat up all the way hoping to restore the feeling in her frozen toes before making the drive home, when 9 year old son in backseat says, “Uh oh, Mom. There’s a problem.” Nothing good can come of this! She begins praying for something simple like frostbitten fingers or a frozen seat belt buckle. But alas, something far worse! When looking at a receipt The Boy notices that the Hallmark shop accidentally forgot to charge him for a $1.95 Troll he bought for his sister.

The conflict… 9 year old son wishes to return to the Mall to rectify the situation. Near crazed mom wants to drive away fast and never look back! What to do?

At this point two axioms wrestle in the mother’s thoughts. First, “Actions speak louder than words”, and second, “Do as I say, not as I do”. This is the type of moral quandary we face everyday as parents. We wish to teach our children to do the right thing…to be honest, to be fair, to take turns, to be compassionate, and to live by the “Golden Rule”. Trouble is, as time goes by, rationalization has infiltrated our own personal values and our actions are often in direct conflict with the lessons we wish to instill in our own children. Mom’s internal value system can easily identify the absurdity of tromping through the snow yet again for a measly $2.00. She can rationalize that someone, somewhere this week probably overcharged her by $2.00 so, in the long run, it all evens out. When faced with the Arctic conditions, distraught mom wonders if it isn’t time the child learned the nuances of honesty.

But there he sits, receipt in hand, with his integrity still intact. So, going against every survival instinct the mother possess, she turns, looks at the imploring eyes of her 9 year old son and says as enthusiastically as she possibly can, “Glad you caught that. Okay, let’s go!” And back they tromp…through what has now escalated into a full fledged blizzard, to right a wrong. The salesgirl at the counter is not impressed. Her manager is standing behind her frowning. She’ll undoubtedly be reamed later for her carelessness. Plus, the salesgirl is clueless as to how to fix this situation. Increasingly annoyed manager asks her to step aside as she takes over the transaction. The line behind them is getting ugly. Mom can feel their stares boring through her skull. No one is applauding her actions. No one is congratulating the boy for his profound honesty.

But, as Mom bundles up yet again to make their way back out to the car, SHE is proud; proud of her son, and yes, proud of herself. Sure, someday the son will start making his own rationalizations, but not on her watch. As long as she has anything to do with it she will encourage his moral behavior. She will also humbly learn from it!

Our children need us to be the people we hope they become. Although daunting at times, and near impossible at others, it is the gauntlet that challenges us to be our best!



  1. I’ve been coming to your blog for several months and love your creativity. I’m a doctoral candidate at Harvard and use crafting as one of my means of relaxation. Here’s the funny thing. My thesis, although not completely resolved, is on changing family values. I love your line, “Our children need us to be the people we hope they become.” Brilliant! Any chance I could interview you? Who knew I’d find material for my dissertation on a crafting blog!

    1. I would be happy to speak with you. Just email me and we’ll set something up. Crafting has always been a source of relaxation for me, too. I have other diversions, but clanging knitting needles can be a blissful mantra! 

  2. Thank you for being a great example to your son and to all of us. “doing the right thing” is becoming a lost art.

  3. I just want to say, I faced a similar situation about 25 years ago. Today, my son is a man to be proud of and that people, including myself look up to and follow. He is strong of character and gives of himself in his community by regular volunteer work. He is considerate and kind — and a bit of a one-man-band. I am happy and proud to be his mom. And he is creative, like his mom…

    1. As parents we are faced with those types of situations on a daily basis. I truly believe our children help us to be better people. It’s a lovely balance.

  4. Thanks Kimara,

    “Our children need us to be the people we hope they become” sums up parenting, doesn’t it. I have already memorized the words and I will repeat them whenever I am challenged as a parent. My children are young. 6mo and 20mo. I do want to be a great parent and teach them well. Thanks for an inspiring blog.


  5. I love your story! While I haven’t faced this with my own daughter yet I have had situations where I wondered what -I- should do. Great message!

  6. Kimara,
    That is a wonderful story and you are a special mom.
    One year I took my son to the mall and was getting ready to leave, when I noticed some colored movement below me. He had taken two stuffed garfields off of the shelf in a store and no one noticed. We took them back and I think the store clerk was more amazed that we did. It is sad to think that they expect us to be dishonest.


  7. Fantastic story. Being a mom is hard work but the rewards are tremendous. You are deservedly proud of your own actions as well as your son’s. Bravo!


  8. Integrity….Doing the right thing even when no one is watching….Our kids are always watching….EVERYTHING!

  9. That story rocked! What a wonderful lesson you both learned that day. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I love this story. I, too, would have trudged back to the mall, troll doll in hand, boy in tow. Good on you for taking the high road!

  11. I commend you. I only wish that there were more people like you. This world would be a far better place. Good and meaningful values that are established in childhood and held true as an adult are the keys to preventing the many social and political ills of society.

  12. I’m so glad you didn’t let the ease of doing the wrong thing get in the way of doing the more difficult right thing. I wished I had been in line behind you that day to applaud your son. Tell him he made a complete strangers day and I’ll be smiling about this all week. And I love your blog!

  13. Oh, Kimara, thank you so very much for posting this! I read this with tears in my eyes, tears of absolute JOY that there I can still believe in mankind, that there ARE good people in our world, that a child learned such a wonderful lesson from a mom who cared enough to do the very best. Yes, I know God has and will continue to bless you for that! Peaceful wishes sent your way this Advent and Christmas season.

  14. Way to go! Teaching our young the right way to do things is to be appluded. Sure it can be a pain in the rear sometimes but laying the foundation for honesty in our kids is a big “MUST DO”!! Wish more people would jump on board the “honesty train”!!

  15. Good job! It isn’t just important to do right when it’s easy, but especially when it’s hard. I once bought a $65 purse at The Bon Marche and when I got home the purse was in the shopping bag along with my receipt and my check! So, I called the store and told them so they would know that their books would be off by that amount and returned to the store the next day with my check. The gal who made the mistake and waited on my just said Ok, she never thanked me or commented on my honesty. When I told my hubby how disappointed I was, he said, you didn’t do it for the praise, you did it for yourself. Wise man.

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