It finally happened. My child was the kid who did it. The pleasant, delightful little kindergartner, who brings me flowers and says a prayer before every meal, was the girl who stuck her tongue out at another child. Excuse me?! Did my eyes deceive me or did that really happen? It was a minor offense and laughable to most, but as a young mom trying to win the race of raising a tiny human who loves others, it lit my hair on fire. Her actions caused a feeling of failure to swell inside me. She went against everything we were teaching her. She was deliberately being rude to another human being, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

Parents typically explore a spectrum of emotions when deciding on the perfect retort to their child’s objectionable behavior. My natural reaction to my child’s gesture was to deny her the tasty kids meal I was about to buy her. That would teach her! Yet my heart piped up and reminded me of the positive side of the spectrum. The side that stops and asks God what to do instead of flying off the handle in administrating discipline that only temporarily fixes the problem. I asked God how in the world He would want me to handle the situation. In that short moment in the drive-thru line, He pointed me to a spiritual conversation that would have a lasting impact versus a punishment leaving her with no heart change.

God wanted me to hear my daughter out and discover why she chose to “greet” her peer the way she did. When I gave her the opportunity to talk through her actions, God gave me the opportunity to hear her heart. Her honesty told me she wanted to smile at the little girl but feared she would be laughed at. My daughter’s wall came up in the form of sticking out her tongue to avoid the embarrassment. It all made much more sense to me. I wasn’t completely failing as a parent! I would have missed the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with my child if I had not stopped to ask God how He wanted me to respond.

We talked about planting good seeds; every time she smiles at a person she plants a good seed. One smile can change a person’s day. When she chooses to help her friends, she is planting good seeds. It is easier to plant a good seed from the start than it is to go back and course correct a bad one. Though course correcting negative reactions before they happen is ideal, we are not going to get it right every time. And that’s okay. When we take our failure to God and move forward in His grace, we will find ourselves in His corrected course. No matter how many times we fail.

“Plant good seeds” has now become a phrase we use to start our days—a tradition of sorts. I write the phrase on her napkin in her lunch box. When we pray in the car, we ask Jesus to help us plant good seeds. She makes a difference with every kind gesture she plants. Not all seeds will grow, but she is guaranteed to make at least one person’s day better when she plants those good seeds. We strive to do our part in adding positivity to a world that needs Jesus.