“I’m so mad….but let’s hug it out.”

“Bug…let’s put on your shoes.” I stared at the pile of kid’s shoes mixed with my wife’s shoes. This pile resembled a mountain…except parts of this “shoe mountain” were sparkly with heels.

I looked at my daughter. “For a woman who gets mad at me leaving my dirty socks everywhere,  she sure doesn’t notice the Mount Everest of shoes in the living room.”

She smiled at me and said, “Daddy, we have PE today….so I need to wear tennis shoes.”

I nodded, “Ok, here you go.” I handed them over to my daughter and she started to cry.

“Babe,  what’s wrong? Why the tears? You don’t want to wear these? But, these are your PE shoes..”

With tears in her eyes she said, “No Daddy, they are dirty…please no.”

I was confused. “Why? These are supposed to be dirty…it’s PE shoes.”

And the answer came, “Another kid laughed at me…and called me ‘dirty shoes.’

My heart sank. But I knew this day would come. I knew there would be a day where my child would feel the wrath of “the haves” and “the have notes.” I jumped up and ran to the sink. I started to scrub the shoes clean. Just a quick fix for this “boo boo.”

“Here honey, all better.” My little one’s face lit up. She hugged me and walked to the car. I smiled at her hiding my anger inside. I needed a way to prevent this from happening again. I hopped in the car and drove my little one to school.

We pulled up and noticed my little one’s friends standing by the playground. I looked at my kid, “Ok, baby. Let me walk you in.”

I noticed my little one walking hesitantly to the group of kindergarten girls next to the playground. I thought to myself, “Don’t know who made fun of my kid, but it’s obvious that she is in that group of girls because my kid was acting weird in front of them.” I looked at each kid’s shoes and got an idea.

I ran to my little one and tagged her. “You’re it!” She laughed and started to chase me. I let her tag me. I ran to the group of girls near the playground and tagged one. “You’re it!” The little girl was surprised but soon gave chase. I ran into the playground and right into a brand new mud puddle made by yesterday’s rain. I ran right through the puddle splashing water and mud. The little girl chasing me did the same. I let her tag me and ran after another girl in the group and followed the same path. And this girl ran through the same muddy puddle. I did this five more times. And now that same group of little girls had dirty and muddy shoes. I looked at my little one and she was smiling from ear to ear.

I thought to myself, “Mission accomplished. Now everyone has dirty shoes. …including me.”

I waved at my little one and drove to work. That night,  I was greeted by a very happy 5 year old.

“Daddy, that was funny.”

My wife was not as happy. “Have you seen her shoes? We have to clean these.” I grabbed them and walked to the sink. I started to chuckle. Right now, somewhere around this city, there are 5 other parents standing at the sink cleaning muddy shoes just like me.

That’s how I handle conflicts. I fix them any way I can, even if it means getting my shoes dirty.

The Daily Press-How Do You Handle Conflict?

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