“The bad thing my son did that made me proud”

by Ranjini Shankar

I believe I’ve shared this story somewhere else, but the story still cracks me up each time I remember it so I feel it’s worth sharing again.

I had dropped my 2-year-old son off at daycare and headed off to study for my finals.

I just settled down and had all my books spread out when I got a call from the daycare.

In a very stern and upset voice his teacher said: “Ms. Shankar, you will need to return to the center immediately and please bring a change of shoes for your son!”

I naturally asked her what had happened to earn such disappointment and a need of new shoes and she responded with, “He dispensed the water from the water cooler into his shoe and then proceeded to drink from it, using it as a cup.”

I started cracking up, but I was still curious as to why this had happened since my son was generally a rule follower and knew how to use normal cups with the water cooler at school.

So I packed up all my stuff, swung into the house and grabbed a pair shoes and went back to the daycare center.

My son was being held in the timeout corner and still looked a little smug.

I knelt down beside him and asked him what happened. In his broken 2-year-old vocabulary he explained to me how he had been really thirsty and had tried to use the cups but that they were too high up for him to reach so he just took off his shoe and used it as a cup.

I looked over at the water cooler, and sure enough, the cups had been kept on the high shelf that he couldn’t reach.

The teacher began to look more and more sheepish as the story unfolded and yet somehow still insisted my son was in the wrong and that I had to follow through on the timeout at home in order to parent better.

I looked at her and said that while she may think my son was disgusting for using his shoe, I was proud of him and wasn’t planning on punishing him at all for using his brain and solving a problem.

I did have a chat with him about feet germs at home that night however.

A few months later, as I was putting away his outgrown clothes to donate I found those shoes again.

I smiled to myself and decided to hold on to them a little while longer.


I am a consultant at BCG and proud mom of two.

Talk about transitions, I have gone from single to married, one cat to two, non-mom to mom, and scientist to consultant just in the span of 4 years!

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