Children Leading the Way

Children Leading the Way


Ross Etheridge sat in his driveway, honking the horn. “Chop, chop Bozos! In the car or you’re toast!”  

His wife appeared, softly steering their children to the car. 

“Liz, come on! I asked you to have the children ready!”

Thomas and Lilly fumbled with their seat belts. Liz came over and helped them. She patted her children’s soft hair.

“Ross, please try to slow down. The children love being with you. Life isn’t a race, even if you are going to the running track.”

“Try to get the laundry done while we’re gone. I’ll need a clean shirt when we get back.”

“Bye, Mommy. Thanks for helping with the kitten puzzle,“ Thomas called. 

“Mommy, you look beautiful!” Lilly said strongly. 

Liz blew them kisses as they drove away.

Ross looked at his kids in the rearview mirror. “I want real running today, guys. No lazy stuff. Got it?”

“Daddy, we’ll see. We’re not in the Olympics,” Lilly replied. “Kids run when they feel like it.”

“Why do we have to run?” Thomas asked. “We like looking at stuff. We miss things when we’re running. There are blue flowers by the track we found with Mommy. We can pick some for her.”  

Ross swerved into a tight parking spot and stopped. “All out!”

Opening Thomas’ door, Ross looked closely at his children. They weren’t moving. “What’s the hold up?”

“Daddy, why do we have to hurry?” asked Thomas.

Lilly joined in. “You drive too fast, you want everyone to rush, you want us to run. All we want is to have everything just be slowed down. You’re crabby too. You are not the boss of the whole world!”

Ross stared at Lilly in amazement.

“We like walking. We always walk with Mommy. That’s how we found that dime and the pretty rock we gave you,” Lilly continued.

Thomas added, “Daddy you might like it. Maybe we’ll find raspberries. And we can pick a big bunch of flowers for Mommy if you help us.”

Ross just looked at the children for a moment. Then he helped Thomas get out of his car seat. Lilly got out of the car, too. “Okay, let’s try it,” he said. “You lead me.”

Holding his children’s hands for what seemed like the first time, Ross let the children set the pace. He sat in the sun on the wide stone steps while they explored. Lilly bent down, and then called to him, “Daddy, the little blue flowers!”

Ross went over and knelt down. Together they picked a lovely bouquet.  

“Smell them, Daddy,” Lilly told him. “Don’t they smell good?”

“They do, Lilly.”

“Mommy will just love them.” Thomas was beaming.

“She really will,” Ross answered softly. He was surprised at how calm he felt.

Thomas found raspberries, which they ate on the spot. “Delicious!”

“Should we stop at the bakery on our way home?” Ross asked with a little smile.

“Yes!! Let’s!” They were jumping up and down and grabbing at his hands.

As they made their way back to the car, Ross wondered why he was always rushing. He knew now it clearly didn’t agree with his family. “Slow down and smell the flowers,” Ross thought to himself.

They got into the car quickly. The seat belts were on before Ross put the car into reverse.   Catching sight of the children’s happy faces in the rear view mirror, he smiled. 

They found a parking space right in front of Mary’s Bakery. “Hi, kids. Hi, Ross. You’re all smiles today!”

“Thanks Mary. My little friends are helping me, I guess.”

“Hi Mary. Can we get that bread Mommy likes?”

Mary put Liz’s favorite flax seed bread in a bag. “Anything else?”

“Get something for yourselves. What will it be?” Ross asked.

They pointed at the large chocolate chip cookies. 

“We’ll take four of those, Mary.” Ross said. “They’ll be our dessert.”

The children were so delighted.

Ross didn’t speed on the way home. He pulled into the driveway and the children flew out of the car. 

“Mommy, Daddy bought you your favorite bread, and cookies for all of us! We all picked the flowers and we didn’t rush!”

Liz looked at her husband and she saw the person she had been missing very much. He was smiling, and for a change, relaxed.

“Wonderful!” she smiled. “Let’s wash our hands and have lunch so we can get to those cookies.”


Written by – Anne Martine Cook. Anne has 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.

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