I walked into the backyard after having been inside for a while. I saw the water hose lying on the ground, which isn’t unusual for us because we leave it out fairly often.

What was unusual, however, was the flow of water coming out of the end of the hose! I figured the water had been left on and running for over 2 hours!!


In that moment I was both angry and frustrated. That costs money. We don’t have a well… we are on city water. Every 1,000 gallons costs us money. Who knows how much money we just let loose from the water hose. Correct that: what MACIE let loose from the water hose!

I wanted to go right away to Macie and tell her what she had done wrong, but I caught myself:

Did I want to correct Macie in anger and frustration, or gently teach and instruct a 5-year old about the wise use of water?

After all, she is 5 and she doesn’t know any better. So I took a deep breath, wrote off the monetary expense of this experience, and asked Macie to come outside.

  • When she did, I asked her if she had left the water running.
  • She said, “Yes,” with a little smile.
  • I asked her why she left it on.
  • She said because she wasn’t done with it.
  • I countered by saying, but we were inside for a while.
  • She replied that she forgot she was going to use it again.

A very concrete and logical conversation, right? Exactly the kind of logic one might expect from a 5-year old.

I then dropped the bomb:

“Macie, did you know that water costs money?”

The look on her face was priceless (not quite worth the next month’s water bill, but priceless nonetheless):

“It does?!”
Macie asked, incredulously.

“Yep,” I said. “And if we leave it running when we’re not using it we’re kind of wasting it.”

“Oh,” she said, “I didn’t know. Where does the water come from?”

Then I talked with her about pipes and water towers and meters. She was enthralled. Now every time we drive around Hayward, Macie points out the water towers and can answer this question correctly:

Where does water come from?

Although she still doesn’t understand why we would drink or use water that comes from dirt!

I’m so glad that I chose to engage my daughter in a calm and informative way instead of yelling at her for leaving the hose running. There are countless times when I choose to yell and lecture and punish rather than helping my two girls to understand things in a calm and sensitive manner. Doing it this way is so much better. Why do I still do the yelling thing?!