Two strangers. Two comments. One incredible reminder.
This past weekend, the three kids and I loaded up in the car to attend a local holiday bazaar with my sister-in-law. This was a fancy bazaar, with “vintage chic” decor and higher-end food and clothing lines. Needless to say, I kept the kids very close. Ladybug was being her usual two-year-old self, stripping off her socks and shoes and whining to get out of the stroller. The big kids were being super good, but were definitely curious, asking lots of questions and pointing at things that interested them. It was during a curious moment, when one of the kids stepped into a clothing distributor’s display area to get a closer look at the dressing tent in the corner, that my first interaction happened.
“Wow, you’re brave.”
The woman running the booth (no longer in her child-rearing years), gave me a slight smile and looked at the umbrella stroller where now-barefoot Ladybug was sitting. I was taken by surprise and found that I was feeling a little sheepish. I know it’s ridiculous, but I suddenly felt the need to justify WHY I would bring my three children with me to a bazaar.
“My husband works long hours.”
“If we waited for him to have a Saturday off, we’d never go anywhere.”
“I like to take my kids places because that’s how they learn to behave in different environments.”
In the week leading up to this event, I hadn’t given a second thought to bringing my children with me to a holiday bazaar, but all of a sudden I was second-guessing my decision. I’m not going to analyze this woman’s comment. She was either being genuine or passive aggressive. It really doesn’t matter. I shared her comment mainly to illustrate a point (which is coming…I promise).
After the kids and I left the clothing booth, we walked back and forth at the edge of the bazaar to keep Ladybug moving (and quiet). It was on our third trip across the end of the building when a cute, bubbly, young mom with her own crew in tow stopped me and said,
“I have seen you a couple of times with your kids and I just have to say they are SO well behaved! I can tell you have awesome kids. Good job!”
Again, I was taken a little off guard, but in a good way. I thanked her for her kind words and we chatted for a minute. When it was time to move on to the next area of the bazaar, I felt so much better than I had just a few minutes before. She had lifted my spirits.
It is so funny how both of these women were basically saying the same thing: “I notice you and your kids.” Both put the same amount of effort into the same action – talking to a stranger. However, the second woman took it one step further and chose kindness. It took her no extra effort, but she was able to completely make my day by adding an extra dose of kindness into her interaction with me.
There is power in words, but even MORE power in kindness.
This was a reminder to me that I have the ability to make someone’s day a little brighter, simply by the things I choose to say. Sometimes it’s something as simple as ACTUALLY SAYING the nice things about people that I think to myself. Like when a woman is passing me in the store and I think she’s wearing awesome boots. Do I spend that moment wishing to myself that I had those boots? Or do I TELL the woman that she has awesome boots?
Why keep kind thoughts to ourselves when they have such powerful potential to do good? Why make sarcastic (and possibly misconstrued) comments to strangers when we could keep it simple with kindness? Why let opportunities pass us by when we could be setting examples for our children? I know that, in the moment of kindness I experienced above, all of our children saw (and will undoubtedly benefit from) this woman’s example. Wouldn’t the world be a much more peaceful place if we all took time to share a little extra kindness?
I went into that bazaar looking for a perfect gift. Even though I left that building with a package under my arm for someone else, I had been the recipient of an incredible gift from a total stranger.
And it cost her nothing.