It was one of those cold, damp mornings when I really didn’t feel like sitting outside and watching hours of soccer games. I was feeling off in general. It was early. I hadn’t slept well. My son’s conference the day before hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, and I’d spent the evening thinking about that rather than thinking about the other three kids’ great conferences…because I, apparently, like to punish myself. I sat on the ground, sipping tea from a thermos and playing Words with Friends to avoid socialization. It had been a rough couple of days.
Later, one of my son’s assistant coaches came up to me and said, “My husband and I were talking about your kids. They are the best, so polite and such good sports. We were wondering what you’d done to make them so great. And, my husband said ‘You should tell their mom that,’ so I thought I would.” I looked at her, my eyes threatening to tear up, and I said, “Thank you. I really needed to hear that today.”
Why don’t we do that more often? Why don’t we tell the people we see the good things we think about them or their kids?
It reminded me of a time at Target a couple months ago. A mom was having an especially hard time with her preschooler. I’d seen him screaming and hitting her. She took him behind a clothes rack, mostly hidden from the aisle, and sat him on her lap on the floor, pinning down his arm so he couldn’t hit her and calmly telling him they would stay there until he calmed down. I pretended I didn’t notice. I didn’t want to embarrass her. I moved away and pretended to look at clothes that wouldn’t fit any my kids, just so she didn’t see me seeing her.
Finally, after her son calmed down, I felt compelled to say something. It seemed awkward, so I wavered, BUT, it also seemed important, so I went over and quietly told her, “You are doing a really good job.” She looked at me like I might be insane, so I explained, “This age can be horrible. I know, because I have four kids of my own. But the work you put in now is going to pay off. And, I promise, it gets easier.” Her look changed from being afraid that I was a crazy-Target-stalker, to the same teary-eyed look I think I probably had that morning on the soccer field, and she said, “Thank you, I really needed to hear that. I was feeling like an awful mom.”
You know what? We all need to hear the good things. And, usually, when someone tells us something good, it comes at just the right time.
So, let’s take the time, and let’s take the risk of sounding like crazy-Target-stalker ladies, and let’s tell the people in our lives, or the people we see, the good things that we think.
Send a text to let your friend know how much you admire something about her parenting. Mention to another mom how polite her kid was during the play date. Tell the mom at the grocery store with a bunch of kids in tow that you’re impressed by their behavior. Email the parents of the kid your son says is always nice to everyone.
You won’t regret making the time, or even taking the risk of sounding crazy. Trust me, these parents need to hear it.