Brea Schmidt watched her daughter use every last dollar trying to win a doll at the church festival. And when she ran out of money and the tears started, it was time for a life lesson.

Last night my girl was playing a game at the church festival in my hometown… trying desperately to win a Poppy doll by…

Posted by The Thinking Branch on Friday, July 21, 2017

As the mom of three, who blogs at The Thinking Branch, shared on Facebook, she’d watched her five-year-old open ticket after ticket, hoping to win a longed-for Poppy doll … until she came to her last try. Brea wrote:

She knew it was her last dollar, and on the very last ticket she had, she opened it slowly, holding it up close to her face to peak inside and see if the magic number was there.

But it wasn’t. Again.

And despite her efforts to hold it in, she fell into my arms in tears.

And God love her.

She was exhausted.

And she’s a five year old kid who really wanted something, and was feeling all of the disappointment of not getting it.

We’ve all been there.

As she held her sobbing daughter, Brea couldn’t help but think about childhood innocence, when not winning a doll was one of the worst things that could happen. And that made it tempting to cure her daughter’s sorrow with another few tickets. She wrote:

[W]ith another dollar burning a hole in my pocket, I thought about the memories I had as a kid when it was me who couldn’t win the carnival game with the prize I wanted … and considered helping her avoid that sadness by standing at the dang booth and paying whatever I needed to until until my daughter won.

That was followed by the realization that this was one of the life lessons her daughter needed to absorb:

[F]inally… about ten seconds into our hug … I got to a point where I knew I had to keep that dollar bill in my pocket and give her the life lesson speech.

The one about not winning all of the time. About accepting that there are things that you want, and no matter hard you try, you still might not get them. The one about appreciating all of the dollars from Nana, Papa and Mommy that even let her play in the first place.

But Brea wasn’t the only one moved by her daughter’s tears. Another mom had been watching and stepped in with an offer that sent Brea’s daughter dancing with delight. Brea wrote:

She says, “You know what, honey, I have a dollar and I’m going to give it another try for you.”

As the little girl watched, the stranger took out a dollar, picked out her three-for-one-dollar tickets from the bucket, and opened a winning ticket:

The look on my daughter’s face was the absolute best. Nothing but pure, 5-year-old thrill shining through the leftover tears and snot on her face.

She picked out her doll, hugged and thanked the woman, asked to call my husband to tell him about it, and halfway through the walk to our car said, “Mommy I can’t believe I have Poppy,” and gave her the biggest hug.

While some parents might have been annoyed to have a stranger intervene in a teaching moment, Brea told Dearly it was obvious the woman’s intentions were good:

“That mom wasn’t judging the way I was handling it, she was acting out of the goodness of her heart. How could I not accept that?”

She added that she understands some people might hesitate to step in like the mom in her story did, for fear of causing offense. However, Brea told Dearly she believes it’s better to take the risk and try to help:

“I would rather offer to help another mom and offend her, than NOT offer to help when she really wanted or needed it. Mothering in our generation is hard, and sometimes we need people around us to help us through some of these moments.”

That could have been the end of the story, but Brea wanted to ensure this happy ending still had a lesson.

My husband saw a FB post recently calling out to Dads to take more pictures of their wives … capturing them as part of…

Posted by The Thinking Branch on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

This wasn’t the day for the “you can’t always get what you want” lesson, but there was something valuable to be learned about kindness.

Brea talked to her daughter about the woman who bought the extra tickets, how that made her feel, and how she could follow that example. She wrote:

ME: “So what did you learn about what you should you do the next time you see someone sad?”

HER: “Do something for them so they’re not sad anymore.”

Brea acknowledges that the stranger “threw a wrench in my original life-lesson-dealing plan.” But she hopes that her daughter will remember this moment when she starts school and finds herself in different situations:

And if one of those situations lands her in a spot where she sees a fellow classmate feeling sad … maybe she’ll remember the woman at the Poppy booth … and reach into her heart to find a way to help her friend feel better.

As Brea told Dearly, it’s easy to get wrapped up in creating the perfect teaching moment, but it’s also important to recognize the bigger lesson when it comes:

As moms, we want to teach our kids all of the right lessons and we feel the social pressure to handle every parenting situation perfectly (like I did that night when I was trying to decide whether to give her the extra dollar) that we often forget that kindness is one of the most important things that we can teach our kids.

Brea stresses that she still intends to make sure her daughter learns and “feels” that important lesson about disappointment. But when the opportunity came to show her daughter the value of kindness, she couldn’t ignore it. As she told Dearly:

“In that particular moment, the kindness lesson was MUCH more impactful and important. And I’m grateful that Mom gave us that moment.”

Leave a comment

We are excited to announce Dearly has joined forces with Mama’s Uncut. Helping Mom’s across the United States answer questions on life’s big challenges.