The Car Wash

My littlest guy used to love the car wash. Until he didn’t. You know, those moments after several successful car wash experiences when children decide that the car wash is actually absolutely terrifying made even better when that realization comes when you are stuck in the middle of the car wash with a hysterical child. Just me?

Well, this was us until last week when my little guy requested another trip. I was skeptical at best and in no hurry to sign up for all that again. “Are you sure?” I asked him. “Yet.” (Yes) He said emphatically. “I yike a car wash. Yet’s do it!” And so we did.

He requested that I unbuckle him, so I climbed back and helped him out of his seat. He stood in the middle of the backseat wide-eyed and quiet as I put the car in park and the car wash began. I watched him. This little boy working so hard to be brave. “Do you want to come up here by me?” I asked. “Yet,” he replied softy and leaned on his elbows on the console.

As the car wash began he started saying thank you. “Thank you water. Thank you soap. Thank you brushes. Thank you wind.” It took me a moment to realize that what was scary to him he was approaching with gratitude and receiving it with a thankful heart and a brave little spirit. He had created his own coping strategies to face his fears.

What if we approached fear like this? What if we were thankful for things that were scary and that pushed us out of our comfort zones? What if we were grateful for the opportunity to be brave? What if naming our fears and thanking them would actually help us move right through them?

It sure worked for this cherub of a two and a half year old, and he taught me a big lesson. I’m going to try his technique next time I’m scared, worried, or uncomfortable. I’ll name it and thank it and move right through it. I’m grateful for that big moment with my little guy, and the infinite wisdom that lives in our children.

Find the joy,


Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at for more information or to schedule a consultation.