I first wrote this post a couple of years ago and I’m re-sharing today because the memory still makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside! It’s a lovely reminder for me to be brave and push myself to do more ‘extrovert’ things, in spite of my intense shyness, because putting yourself out there for somebody else’s benefit is incredibly rewarding. Here’s the original post:
I woke up this morning feeling deflated: I’d lost my one day of childcare this week, Pixie didn’t nap yesterday, and my dream of wrapping up blogging before Christmas (pun not intended) was slipping through my fingers. Added to which, with hubby working crazy-hard for the last two months, frankly, I’m exhausted!
Yes, believe it or not, I consider my work day a break – having a toddler who insists on sitting on using me as a climbing frame ALL DAY LONG does that to a person.
We had no plans for the day and the hours were stretching out before me. So I was happy to make some last minute arrangements with my nan and auntie who were looking after my cousin’s little boy for the day. And in the event, my day turned out to be wonderful… (FYI, the next few paragraphs may make this seem like sarcasm – it’s really not, bear with!)
When Things Go From Bad to Worse…
We arrived only an hour before Pixie was due for her nap, so we weren’t planning to stay for too long. As midday approached my aunt got her grandson ready to go to soft play, while I strapped Pixie into her pushchair and we set off on our daily it’s-time-for-your-nap-walk. Alas, once again, she had other plans and thirty minutes later she was still wide awake.
I gave up (not entirely gracefully), and went to meet the fam at soft play. Yay…
A while after we arrived Pixie commandeered a car; you know the ones: they’re usually found in the garden, they’re plastic, have a roof and are considered fun by most children. My daughter on the other hand doesn’t simply consider them ‘fun’, so much as sacred.
Pixie is nearly 28 months old and little ones of this age tend not to have a particularly developed concentration span – yet she remained inside this car for approximately 45 minutes. I kid you not. Eventually – inevitably – a little girl decided she’d quite like a turn. Cue meltdown (Pixie, not the other child).
The little girl had an older chaperone who I’d place at around nine years old. And she was brilliant. She encouraged the little girl to go and look for another car with her, or if not then to go on the slide, or one of the bikes – anything to diffuse the situation and allow my little hog to be happy.
There were several moments there where I was left feeling like an inadequate child watching a very patient, very attentive mother attempting to pacify a toddler. Cringe.
The older girl was successful and as they left us I decided it was my turn to do the ‘good parent’ bit by explaining to Pixie how this was going to go. I proceeded to tell her that if the girl reappeared then she would have to relinquish the car. There were tears initially but then I somehow got through to her and she stepped out of the car of her own accord. Hallelujah. As if on cue the little girl returned and Pixie behaved impeccably this time as she took her turn.
Not two minutes later the older girl brought the empty car back and told me the little one had got bored and their food had arrived anyway. I thanked her and then thought about what had occurred.
Turning a Bad Day Around
Then, leaving Pixie with my aunt, I got up and went to find the girls’ mum. I approached the table they were at and as there were two ladies sitting with the children, I realised the girls were not sisters as I had assumed. The women looked up so I apologised for interrupting and asked who was mum to the older girl. One of their faces dropped and her stance became visibly rigid: she was on protective/defensive mode. She said ‘I am, why?’ and I was suddenly a little unsure of myself.
I told her that her daughter had been incredibly lovely to mine, and I wanted to tell her so.
Why Should You Compliment a Stranger?
The immediate change in her demeanour, and the beam that lit up her face were my prizes for seeking her out.
The woman told me she’d been getting ready to tell her child off (she wasn’t, it was me who was in line for her wrath, but I let it pass); then she grabbed her daughter with such fierce pride that it was a privilege and a pleasure to watch. I changed that lady’s day, and her little girl’s too. And it made going to that soft play – during half-term – totally worth it. For all of us.
We’re quick to defend our kids, but today made me realise the magnitude of value in a sincere compliment – particularly when it’s about our offspring.
So, if you think it – why not say it and compliment a stranger? It’s nice to be nice! I don’t do this often enough myself, even though I mean to – i feels uncomfortable for somebody who’s naturally an introvert – but nobody will ever be anything other than delighted about receiving praise about their child from a stranger.