Heading down the meat aisle of my local grocery store one Sunday afternoon, I paused as my eyes caught the antics of a small boy crouched on the lower deck of a shopping cart. I smiled and said, “Hi! You’re having a great time.”
The father turned from the meat counter and made a disparaging comment about his active son.
“Oh, he’s just a small boy having fun.” I shrugged. “What is he — 2?”
“He’s 4,” the father said dryly.
My face flushed with shame, not so much for the father as for myself. His words were an echo of my own voice in years past when, in moments of exhaustion and stress, I sometimes acted like my children were hindrances to my happiness, an inconvenience rather than a joy. It also reminded me of the times wiser friends came beside me, saying approving words that put smiles on my children’s faces and renewed my resolve to be a better parent.
That was the past; this was the present. I smiled again at the boy, wished them both a good day and moved on. Yet my heart was troubled. Was there something more I, a stranger, could have done or said to affirm that little boy in the name of Jesus?