What if… ?

photo source: pinprick

I’ve told the story to family and friends numerous times.   I’ve rolled my eyes about him.   “Can you BELIEVE that?” I’ve asked, positively incredulous that he would even have considered doing such a thing…




My son was in his first year of preschool.  That school served a drink and snack each day and they relied on parent donations to make that happen.  Common choices?  Goldfish, pretzels, applesauce, pudding cups, crackers, etc.  And, yes, I was the mom of the kid who refused to touch the yogurt because he had never even SEEN blue and green yogurt before.  (Don’t go patting me on the back– I served regular old Yoplait at home that was probably full of HFCS. ;))


Anyway, the system worked, eh, okay.  As is often the case with this type of arrangement, however, there are a few parents who shoulder the bulk of it while others “conveniently” forget time and again.   The school was super low on snacks.  The teachers went out on a limb and actually ASSIGNED some children days to bring something in, focusing on some of the families who had thus-far not really carried their weight at all.


And so, one Tuesday, a young father rushed in, his barely three-year-old child’s sticky hand clenched in one of his, a plastic grocery sack in the other.  From it, he pulled a box of donut holes and a 3-liter bottle of cola.  It was 8:30 in the morning.  In a classroom full of 2- and 3-year-olds.   I know I must have looked alarmed.  And the teacher stammered, “Um, thank you.  We appreciate you bringing snack today.  We don’t usually serve donuts, but that’s okay– it’ll be a fun treat for the kids.  But, um, we won’t be able to use the soda….”


“Why?  Johnny (not his real name) likes soda.  I think most kids do.”


“Well,” she looked to the side, “some of the children likely haven’t even tried soda at this age and we have concerns about how the caffeine might affect them…”


He shrugged, looked down, and mumbled, “Sorry.”


I, ever the eager “helper” mommy (man, “present me” isn’t a big fan of “past me”), asked the teacher if she needed me to go pick up some water or juice for with snack.  She assured me they were fine, and I headed out, mentally “tsk tsk”-ing all over the place.


Now, in all likelihood, little Johnny probably was fed a steady diet of these sorts of foods.  Heck, he may even have been one of those babies with the Coke poured right in the bottle– shudder.  I can tell you one thing for sure– I was disgusted.  And I thought that daddy was ridiculous and negligent and irresponsible.   Maybe he was.  But, what if…


…he didn’t see the paper requesting he bring snack until that morning and he just grabbed the first thing he could?

…he was going through a messy divorce and just wasn’t focused?

…his little Johnny pitched such a tremendous tantrum that it wasn’t worth it to fight him and he gave in to his demands?

…he was reeling from a loss or tragedy and didn’t have the energy to plan a balanced snack?

…he had been “raised on soda and treats and turned out just fine”?

…he was handed the bag to take to the school by the mother or the grandmother or some other family member and wasn’t even aware what was in it?

…he didn’t have a spare dollar and that’s what he could get his hands on?

… what if???


And, really, what if he just makes horrible choices when it comes to a child’s diet?  It’s not a quality I’m going to admire in him, but it doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.  It doesn’t mean he deserves the scorn I’ve displayed.  It doesn’t mean he is deliberately sabotaging our kids’ mornings with heaps of sugar and caffeine.   It means, perhaps, that he shouldn’t be the one bringing snack.  Or that we needed clearer guidelines.  Or… something.


But, I can’t help but wonder, as I remember all the times I’ve rolled my eyes and scoffed and “can you BELIEVE that?”-ed over various things…


What if… ?

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12 comments to What if… ?

  • Sarah

    Jessie Leigh-
    This is probably my favorite post of yours ever. My dad always told me growing up that people do the best they can in their given situation. It’s always easier to judge someone than to walk a mile in their shoes.

    • Thanks, Sarah. Yes, judging IS easy. And it can (temporarily) make you feel good, sad as that may be. But letting go of judgment? Is so very freeing! I really wish I’d caught onto that a little earlier in life. :)

  • Me!

    So true! I was known for being the only mother who brought healthy snacks to everything, but once I caved and brought Mt. Dew and cookies to Cub Scouts. And guess what? All the other mothers were so mad at me. I guess it was ok for them to do that but not me. I still laugh a little when I see those women. Most importantly, all of our boys are healthy teens now. Thanks for the thoughts.

  • I guess I’m too judgy because I think a LOT of folks do not do the best the can. I think my husband would’ve had enough sense not to show up with soda, but honestly I can’t say for sure. I think a lot of Dad’s may just be sort of clueless about age appropriateness. My husband has advised the boys “darn it” is not a bad word…so Gus chants it over and over and over. He is totally fine with a million snacks…goldfish, graham crackers, dried mangoes, etc instead of a real lunch. I think he just doesn’t really think what he does matters since it’s a once in awhile thing. Honestly I’m kind of impressed “Johnny’s” dad brought him and remembered a snack at all.

  • Firstly, the dad is a guy. Guys frequently do not get “it” (whatever “it” might be). He managed to get a snack and get it to school. He gets points for that.
    Secondly, it is one snack for one day and even if the teacher didn’t have half a brain and ended up giving the kids both the donuts and the soda, she would be the one who had to cope with the sugar high of a room full of 3 year olds. Thirdly, the teacher did have half a brain, so the soda didn’t make the rounds. It probably ended up in the teacher’s lounge (or whatever) and no kids were “exposed”!
    Fourthly, even if however, the kids ended up getting the donuts and soda or just donuts, it was only one snack and unless there are kids with health issues re: sugar (i.e., diabetic etc.), it wouldn’t hurt them in any permanent way. A steady diet of donuts and soda….ghastly! One snack on one day….not the end of the world.

    Besides, what if…?

    I’m a grandmother, trust me, this is true! lol!

    • I hear you! (Though, judge-y or not, I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I would have been a bit annoyed had they given my son soda… he’s six now and still hasn’t had the stuff! ;))

  • Jennie

    I absolutely LOVE how real you are with this blog. Thank you so much for posting all the what if’s. We all forget that we’re all human and God wants to love everyone no matter what.

  • Once again, very well said! I couldn’t agree more,and really I think the old you and the old me had have been the same person! I used to be the same way “I can’t believe so and so does this or taht” until God served me a big old slice of Humble Pie in the name of Grace. that little girl has been my biggest life lesson, all the things God has been trying to teach me, show me that I’ve just brushed off, he threw right in my face with her so that I could no longer deny them.
    A few days after losing Grace, I took my boys to the library, it had been a long day and obviously we were all out of sorts because she had just died but my 4 year old threw a huge fit at the train table and the librarian got very rude and started to try to discipline him and you could just tell she was thinking awful things about him and my parenting. Had she known the H**l my family had just walked through, im sure her thought process would have been different.

    • Oh, the lessons are hard sometimes, aren’t they? I’m so sorry you had to deal with the rudeness at such a difficult time, though. You’re absolutely right that, had she known the whole story, that librarian’s response would have likely been completely different. I guess it comes down to that whole “assume the best”, right? (That, and I’m forever kicking myself for judging! I’m getting better. Much better. But I still judge… :( )

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