My three-year-old daughter made her first gingerbread house, and I thought I caught her breaking candy off and eating it. “Stop it,” I said from the top of the stairs.
Her face crumpled in transparent hurt and indignation. But Mommy, I didn’t do it. She sobbed.
She didn’t. I was wrong. She has been sneaking candy recently. I was convinced she was doing it again.
I’m sorry, I said. I was wrong. Sometimes Mommy is wrong.
But my feelings are hurting, she cried.
I know, I said. I hugged her. The next time I’m wrong, tell me and I’ll believe you.
At the grocery store a few hours later, it appeared she was pulling open a small carton of Goldfish crackers we hadn’t bought yet. I said her name in a warning tone.
“Mommy, you’re wrong.” She said it without getting upset, and I believed her right away.
So many important lessons tucked in at once. I hope she’ll always retain a sense of fairness and a willingness to tell authority when it is wrong. I’m glad she is grappling with the fallibility of the people she loves most. Perhaps when she is older she’ll have the courage to wear her weaknesses openly when she’s in the company of people she can trust — an essential trait of leadership.