The girls were playing outside in the backyard the other day when all of the sudden, Shannay came barreling through the back door of the house yelling,  "MOM!!!!!  Nikki's digging in the dirt!!!!!!"

I was in the middle of cooking dinner, so I wiped my hands, tossed down the dish towel and headed out into the backyard to see exactly what was going on.

Sitting quietly in the corner was this sweet, little girl who was gleefully digging in the dirt.

Initially, I freaked out.  But before you judge me too harshly, you should know that I have OCD and the thought of anyone digging in the dirt would freak me out.  You should also know that last summer/spring/fall, Nikki consistently dug holes in the back yard and Mike consistently had to fill them up.  It was annoying.  So I felt justified in my anger.

Anyway, as I was about to launch into my "how many times do I have to tell you" lecture, she looked up at me and said, "Mama, don't be mad."


I was mad.  About dirt.  About a child playing in the dirt.  Children should play in the dirt.  So, I said to myself,  "What in the world are you mad about?  She's 4. She wants to play in the dirt.  Calm down, Carol!"

I'm good at "Calm Down Carol" pep talks.

I smiled a smug little "Mother of the Year" smile, told her to enjoy the dirt, but not to put it in her hair, and I very calmly walked into the house.

As I walked past Shannay, she looked at me like I'd grown two heads.  She takes after me.  She likes things orderly.  And clean.  So, I stopped for a moment and got down on my knees and said, "Nikki needs to play in the dirt.  It helps her to be happy. Okay?"

She smiled at me, still somewhat confused, eyes bright with tears and lip quivering, and said, "Okay Mama."  She stood over Nikki for the next 10 minutes "supervising" the situation.

I tend to want to believe that people are doing things to make me mad (true confession) or to annoy me; but in reality, they are processing life through their set of filters.  Nikki thinks better when her hands are busy (well, really when her whole body is busy).  Shannay thinks better when things are routine and orderly.  I think better when I'm in charge.  (I may or may not have control issues.)

All that to say, recognizing that each of us are wired and created to process life differently, through different filters, is an important realization, and honestly, an important life skill.


  1. So good, Carol. I need to try to remember that people's actions/responses aren't something they plan just to make me mad, or feel any other emotion for that matter! - J.

  2. Yeah. Wes digs in the dirt, tastes the dirt (his favorite flavor is South Texas Grit), and makes dirt angels. We're preparing to make him a sandbox so he can dig without coating himself in sediment.


Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you.