The other day, my crew of after school world-changing kids consisted of my five year old daughter, my eight year old son, another five year old girl and an eleven year old boy. We stayed to play with a bunch of other families on the snow hills in the playground. There were probably 20 kids climbing and sliding on the hills … which then turned into kids piling onto one another, which then resulted in someone getting hurt, which happened to be my son this time. His leg got bent back too far and he said he couldn’t put pressure on it to walk home. So although he is really too big, I let him go in the double stroller for the walk home.

My daughter was upset about this. Well, actually, she had been upset about a bunch of things since I arrived at 3:30 to pick her up. She had been whining and getting mad at me about everything. And I was letting that go. But when she started saying it was unfair that her brother got to ride in the stroller, which is normally just used for everyone’s backpacks and gear, I started to get upset. I told her that she should be more sensitive and understand that her brother is hurt, and I told her that if she were hurt, I would let her ride home in the stroller. But that didn’t change her mind. She was still whining and acting up on the walk home.

We stopped at one other snow hill near our house, in the church parking lot, because the kids wanted to slide there a few times (oh and this, by the way, miraculously cured my son’s hurt leg). I mentioned to the other five year old girl that she was creating an avalanche as she was sliding down. I said, “Listen to all the snowballs and ice chunks falling down the hill in front of you.” This made my daughter even more upset … she started complaining that I hadn’t commented on that when she slid down the hill.

Then I took a deep breath. I remembered that when I first picked her up, she said she had not eaten her lunch because at first nutrition break, when she was going to eat her veggie burger, she didn’t want to because there was no ketchup with it. And then at second nutrition break, she explained that because she can’t tell time she missed the chance to eat. She started colouring and then they told her it was time to clean up and she had not eaten her apple slices or carrots yet. She did eat all her apple slices out in the playground when I picked her up, but she was still holding out for ketchup, so wouldn’t eat her veggie burger. Needless to say, she was very hungry. Also, we had been up too late the previous few nights. And she was a bit under the weather with a plugged up nose and cough.

So I reminded myself of all this and instead of getting angry, I said, “Are you feeling unloved? Do you need a hug?” And I grabbed her and gave her a big hug. Then I held her out at arm’s length to look at her and she was smiling. So I gave her a bunch of kisses.

And it worked! She made it the rest of the way home without whining or complaining or acting up.

Such a simple thing.

Why don’t I always think of it?