A crazy road trip with three of our four children created lots of memories for me as a dad. Our purpose for this particular trip was to visit my wife’s parents and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. My wife and one daughter flew, while the rest of us were road trip warriors! It became a 46-hour non-stop trip, except for necessities, from Vancouver British Columbia, to Cadillac Michigan. Our memories included: getting lost in the early hours of the morning, witnessing a spectacular lighting storm, and driver’s training as my daughter learned to drive a car with a standard transmission. Each memorable moment has been forever etched in our minds.

One particular memory from that trip taught me a poignant lesson on parenting. We stopped at a fast food restaurant for a quick bite. I was paying for the meal when the cashier gave me $5 too much change. I noticed and handed it back to her. My daughter who was standing next to me said, “Dad I noticed too and I was watching to see what you would do.” Wow, what a moment! What if I hadn’t noticed, or worse yet, what if I’d thought $5 was no big deal. That trip was about 10 years ago. Recently it came up and my daughter still remembers the $5 dollar integrity test! It is true our kids do watch and learn.

What Will They See?

Recently I discovered this poem by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan. It so clearly illustrates the power of this universal truth…

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt—
But that it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking—
I looked . . .
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.

–Mary Rita Schilke Korzan


More about the author of this poem,

Mary Rita Schilke Korzan wrote a poem to her mother, thanking her for all she had done as a mother, friend, and role model. She offered it as a tribute at her own wedding. So many wedding guests asked for a copy that Mary included one in her thank-you notes. That’s when the strange and heartwarming journey of Mary’s poem to her mom began. Friends started passing it on to those they knew. A minister in her hometown couldn’t recall who gave it to him, but he included it as “anonymously written” in his book about loving others. Mary finally noticed her poem, listed as “Author Unknown,” in A Fourth Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Mary has now authored a book titled; When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking.

Written by Mike Woodard

Mike Woodard

Mike is married to Karen, he is father of 4 and grandfather of 2. Backpacking is his favourite past time. Science and theology are his educational background, a biology degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in Christian Studies from Trinity Western Seminary. Mike is the Associate Director of FamilyLife Canada. For more of his story visit familylifecanada.com/mike