lelli kelly, letter to my daughter, letter to my child, childhoodMy beautiful Katie,

We had a rough morning last week.

In a line that felt like it would go on for eternity, you counted floor tiles, jumping from foot to foot.

“See me, Mommy?”

Of course I saw you…

Four steps forward, turn, and back to me and Matthew.

Just as you grew weary of this game, another mother and her little girl got in line behind us.

Your face lit up to see a potential friend. You retreated to me, pulled me to your level, and asked if you could say hi.

“Of course you can,” I encouraged, incredibly proud of your newfound confidence.

You approached her slowly, one floor tile, two.

With your most courageous voice, you whispered, “Hi, my name is Katie, what’s yours?”

And in an instant, her mother blocked you…”We don’t shake hands” she blurted.

You backed away, one floor tile, two.


The little girl hid behind her mother and you behind yours.

Tears pooling in your eyes, you asked, “What did I do wrong, Mommy?”

I bent down, held you close so only you could hear my words.

“Not a thing, Katie, not a thing.”

And after our turn in line, we settled on a bench, and I explained it the best I could…

You know how Mommy wears glasses?

Now, I want you to imagine that we all wear glasses.

Glasses get smudges, a finger print here, a bit of dust there.

Those smudges are just temporary can be cleaned away.

And those same glasses will get scratches, scratches can’t be cleaned away with soap and water, but they make us who we are.

But those smudges? It’s so important to clean those.

Those smudges are hurts, assumptions, judgements that accumulate over time.

That mommy’s glasses are dirty and she just needs a reminder to clean them.

Because those smudges prevent her from seeing the beautiful things around her…from seeing a little girl with an outstretched hand and an eager smile.

Promise me that you’ll always clear away those smudges, Katie.

I want you to see people clearly…I don’t want smudges that accumulate over time to obscure your view.

I want you to reach for another hand.


Ever so proud of you,



  1. Sherri

    Tears!! Oh, this is such a teaching moment…and you are such a gracious and wonderful mom to see the benefit of talking to her about it and not just brushing it away.

    Smudges…we all really need to clean them away now and then. I love this.


  2. Doni

    I can't even imagine what that mom was thinking. Unless her daughter had some autoimmune disease or something — and even then — that would've been a great "teaching" moment for both of them. You did an amazing job at least turning such a senseless situation into a teaching moment for Katie. Unfortunately, what that woman taught hers that day will become a huge barrier in her life.

  3. Jessica D Torres

    What a sad moment for Katie but you turned it into a great learning opportunity.

  4. Alison@Mama Wants This

    You're a terrific mother, Nichole. That was a beautiful, wonderful lesson.

  5. Beautiful and a lesson for me too.

  6. Stephanie

    Beautiful analogy. Really lovely.

  7. Kimberly

    What a heart breaking moment for Katie, but you turned it into a wonderful lesson. You are a beautiful mother.

  8. CDG

    I wish that, in the heat of such a moment, I had your patience.

    Beautifully, rendered, Nichole. As always.

  9. What? I'm….speechless…what a beautiful lesson. So beautiful.

  10. Jayme

    This was so beautiful! You have a way with words my dear. I probably would've cried too if that happened to me.

  11. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson

    What a fabulous teachable moment. I'll bet Katie will remember it all her life. I had one of those moments myself when my son was bouncing around. I wish you had been there to hold my hand.

  12. Krista

    I read this on my phone this early this morning and all morning this story has stayed with me. Trying to wrap my mind around what the other mother was thinking, trying to find a way to make it OK that she reacted to your child that way. And I'm just so confused by it. But also? I'm so touched that you took the time to talk to Katie and didn't just brush it off, or make the situation worse. You're a good momma, lady. Katie is lucky to have you.

  13. Oh Nichole, I love how you made this a teaching moment for her, though I am so sorry she had to be hurt. The part that struck me was how you mentioned her "newfound confidence." Abbey is shy, and I know that if she made an overture like that, she would be especially hurt to have it rebuked (by the mother or the daughter.)

    And really? She couldn't have just let Katie shake her little one's hand and then pulled out the hand sanitizer a few minutes later?

  14. Megan -Best of Fates

    Okay, that analogy is so perfect and beautiful I'm definitely going to steal it because there's no way I could come up with it all on my own.

  15. John

    You handled this much better than I would have, Nichole. I have a feeling, if this had happened to one of my kids, I'd have been giving the "profanity has its place . . . it's like dessert, every now and then, it's ok"

  16. Rachel

    WHERE do you get your patience from. Seriously?

  17. midwestmomments

    So incredibly beautiful. I love you and your amazing ability to make this a teaching moment.

  18. yuliya

    You just pulled that beautiful teaching moment/analogy out of your butt? Wow. So impressed by you.

  19. Jaime

    Ugh! Sweet little Katie. I know how hard it would be for me to make that effort, and I know it took a lot of courage for Katie to make it. My heart just broke for her.

    I'm glad she has such an awesome mamma to pick her up.

  20. Sara

    Poor Katie! My heart goes out to her. Love this post!

  21. GGirlGGreen

    Aww, very cute! love it!

  22. Nancy C

    Oh, I can feel Katie's hurt. I was so like how you describe her…sensitive, giving, and hurt by others.

    And it's clear that the other woman had burdens of her own, that she felt compelled to control her environment in such a severe fashion.

    You are a remarkable mother.

  23. Stephanie

    I truly wish that I could teach my children the way you do yours. I am so often at a loss for how to explain things when they hurt.

  24. Leigh Ann

    Such a beautiful moment and what a perfect analogy. But seriously, what mom is rude to other people's kids like that? I hope it's a sign of a bad day and not her normal behavior.

  25. tracy@sellabitmum

    What a teachable moment my friend. You handled it beautifully. Now I would not have been able to stop myself from asking the mom why her daughter could not play? But I have a zero tolerance level to that. gah.

    Love you. xo

  26. Beautiful – and what a great reminder for all of us, everyday.

  27. Jessica

    Beautiful, what an amazing way you turned this arou d into a beautiful lesson.

  28. Galit Breen

    Nichole? This is stunning. Beautifully handled.

  29. Katie

    my first thought was maybe the lady is a total germaphobe, but she didn't have to be rude. Her daugher still coud have said hi without shaking Katie's hand.

    It's good you turned it into a learning moment. Please tell me you AT LEAST shot that grinch a dirty look :)

  30. Shell

    Oh girl, so beautiful.

  31. twertman

    You my friend are an awesome mommy! xoxo

  32. Kirsten

    I believe in the power of those teaching moments, I bleieve that it is our differences that nake the human race such an interesting thing. That mom was not right, she could have done with more consideration, had her own teaching moment …but for you to show Katie the lesson in this with such a beautiful anaolgy was the gift you gave her as a parent. We can not account for or predict the behaviour of others but we can prepare our hearts for the hurts, intentional or not and work hard to heal them with our own understanding.

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  33. Ryan @ TWM


    But can I just say that I hate it when my kids get hurt by other people's smudges? Because I do.

  34. Wow, that is a harsh thing for a little girl. I know if my son reached out, which is unlikely since he is very timid, and felt rejected, it would take a long time for him to recover.

    You did a good thing trying to teach her what happened and how to react.

  35. temysmom

    We've been talking a lot this week about why some kids hurt other people… and why some parents do the same. It's really hard for kids to understand when they are so innocent. I adore the "smudges" analogy. It was beautiful.

  36. Peggy

    This disgusts me that this what society has become where a mother teaches a child to fear another child because they may have germs just by touching them. I'm proud of Katie for wanting to reach out to make a new friend. I'm sure she bounced back from the rejection better than Momma.

  37. BalancingMama

    Glorious. What a perfect way to change a moment.

  38. Susan Robinson

    Such a great lesson and you did it beautifully.

  39. Bod for tea

    A hard lesson, but so beautifully taught and retold. Good for you. And the other mother? How sad.

  40. and what did the other Mom teach her child that day …
    sad, just sad … and how well you turned that around!

  41. Anne

    What a great post! Brings a tear to my own eyes. :)

    I was wondering if you’d be interested in sharing your articles with other like-minded parent bloggers? If yes, please email me at with Parents in the subject line.


  42. Lydia

    I love how you used this situation as such an important teaching moment- this is a lesson that will really help your child as she has to live in a world where so many of us,unfortunately, walk around with smudged glasses. This is awesome.

  43. Elizabeth

    Just stumbled upon your blog for the first time. I know so many others have already said it, but I agree…beautifully written and inspiring. Thank you…

  44. HogsAteMySister


    A lovely Venus moment.

    A Dad is from Mars moment might or might not have found found the mother who does not shake hands wearing a trash can for a hat.

    We do not do well when people make our chillens cry.

    We are all grown up that way.

  45. Priya

    That was beautiful. Beautifully said.

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