Yesterday morning, Shauna caught Noah in a lie.

Not a “lie-awake-in-fear, heinous-global-conspiracy-because-even-Kellogs-is-involved” kind of lie, but a lie. And he flat out denied it. Kept a stiff upper lip while she reminded him that lying was disrespect, the whole nine yards. You’ve heard the speech. He stomped off into the pre-dawn darkness, leaving my lovely flower pierced like only a mother can be pierced. She found herself wondering: Has anything we’ve tried to teach him sunk in?

I was sitting on the couch downstairs ten minutes later when I heard someone at the door. It’s Noah. “I want to apologize to mommy.” Uber dense dad that I am, I don’t clue in to the nobility of the moment. I’m incredulous. “You’re going to miss your bus!” He nods, discerning my dense displeasure. It was only when he turned to leave once again that I dialed in to what was going on. He knew he’d miss his bus. This was calculated. I ran downstairs to get Shauna.

When she arrived, he clamped on to her and burst into great, heaving sobs. “I’m sorry, mom. Sorry I lied. Sorry I treated you that way.” It was a Seventh Heaven classic, I’m tellin’ ya. After watching this epic display of tears, hugs, and character, I drove him to the bus stop—gladly choosing to be late for my own morning appointment because as his dad, I had to reward his decision. Later on, he told me what led him to do it.

I’ll paraphrase his words: “I walked toward my bus stop and when I got to the main street I stopped and thought, ‘Mom doesn’t deserve that. She doesn’t deserve the way I just treated her.’ And then I remembered, dad, how two weeks ago you said that Satan was going to be attacking our family to try and push us apart, and I thought, ‘This is it. I just let him do it.’ I started to cry, and all the way back home I told Satan off (not in swear words, dad), and I thought, I don’t care if I miss my bus because mom is more important than that.”

Sniff. Sniff. If that doesn’t melt my heart as a dad, nothing will. It shows me that without being able to articulate it, his heart is softer than we think. God speaks to him. Things are sticking. And from time to time, at least, he acts on what we’ve passed on.