Putting the Toothpaste (Words) Back in the Tube (Mouth)

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat of its fruits.”  Proverbs 18:21

Children can sometimes be too honest for their own good.  We want them to tell the truth, but only when they collect all the facts and are familiar with the situation.  Many times, children want to be involved in the conversations we have with others.  And many times, children lack impulse control and say something that makes you want to crawl in a hole and wait until the smoke clears.  

We invited my daughter’s friend over for lunch and a playdate during Thanksgiving Break.  My daughter was so excited to have her best friend over at our house.  When my daughter has a friend over, she wants to show off and talk about all the things that go on in the house.  

We were driving up our street when my daughter says, “My daddy may be asleep in his underwear, so don’t look.”  Thank God I was the only one driving on our street because I stopped in the middle of it.  Nervously, I said to my daughter’s friend, “I can assure you that won’t be happening.”  

I thought about it and knew exactly why she said that.  When our daughter wants to come into our bedroom in the morning, we have to make sure we are decent.  One time, I told her that she needed to wait because daddy needed to get dressed for work.  I didn’t further explain anything but I guess she assumed he was always in his underwear.

I told my husband what happened.  He was mortified.  I told him about the toothpaste story.  He usually rolls his eyes when I tell him these stories I read on Facebook, but this time he offered his travel toothpaste as the example.

After her friend went home, I told her we needed to talk about what she said in the car.  I had her sit down at the table and told her to squeeze out all of the toothpaste.  She looked at me with a quizzical look and starts to squeeze it all out.  She smiled as she made a pile of toothpaste on the napkin.  When she was done, I asked her to put the toothpaste back in the tube.  She asked, “How can I do that?”  I replied, “Because you can’t, right?”  I told her when we speak, we can never fully take back what we say.  Even if we were wrong in what we say and we apologize, people still remember and wonder if they can trust us again.

I explained to her that what she said in the car was not something you talk about with people.  And sometimes people look for opportunities to use the words that we say as a way to get us in trouble.  My husband told her that this also goes for sharing personal information with people.  One day we can be friends and then in a few years the friendship ends and they have all of this information about you that they can now talk about behind your back.

Our daughter apologized.  I think she overwhelmed by the lesson but she got the message.  I realized I have squeezed out the toothpaste once too many times myself.  These past few months with the U.S. Election process a lot of people have shared their comments and opinions on social media and have squeezed out all of the toothpaste.  I have heard people say they blocked or unfriended people because of some horrible comment.  They may never speak with them again.   Was it really worth it?

I told our daughter, if I hear her start to say something she should not, I will gently tell her “toothpaste”  and that will be her clue to stop.  I think we all need that reminder!  Words we say truly do have the power of life and death.   

Lesson Learned:  “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” I think that’s how it goes and you can keep all of your toothpaste too.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for speaking out of line and hurting others.  Gently remind me when the “toothpaste” is being squeezed out.  Holy Spirit give the right words to say to encourage or help others when they need it.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

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