I was in the fitting room recently at Shopko trying on a pair of jeans when I overheard a young employee, probably still in high school, straightening up the fitting room next to mine. She was on her cell phone talking to her mom who seemed to be lecturing her about driving. The young girl sounded impatient and frustrated and brusquely told her mom, “I know how to drive, Mom. Now I’m hanging up. I need to get back to work.”
As a parent, I smiled to myself at this parent/child interaction – so hard for a parent to let go, so believing we need to remind, hover, worry, interfere.
Moments later, I heard this same young girl interacting with an elderly woman who was sounding confused about where to leave the clothing she had tried on and apologetic that she had not hung them properly.
Oh, if only the mom of this young girl could have heard her daughter’s voice and response then. She was mature, friendly, responsive, helpful as she assured the woman not to worry, she would take care of it, “that’s my job. Some of these things can be so difficult to hang up”.
I wished I could have reached out to that mom to share that moment – the mom who was probably still feeling bothered by the way their phone conversation had gone – to say to her –” trust your daughter – she’s more than fine”.
This weekend I heard on the news about a six-year-old girl named Evie who wrote a note to the rangers in Yosemite National Park. Apparently she had visited there and left with two very small sticks in her pocket. She wrote that she knows she should not remove anything from the Park and was sending back these two sticks that she had taped to the paper. She requested they please return them to nature for her.
In the Coop on Saturday, I appreciated the integrity of a young boy of about four whose dad offered him a nut from the bag he had just taken from the shelf. The little boy looked at his dad with surprise on his face, ” Dad, don’t you know we need to buy those first”.
A few weeks ago, I watched four and a half year old Estella go up to another young friend without her own parent being nearby, put her arms around her and tell her she was sorry for not being kind to her at one point during our Friday Play Shoppe morning.
As we watch our children develop in so many different ways, notice the times when they are practicing and refining their moral compasses.
And remember, they are also noticing the times we, as adults, are doing the same.
And that can make all the difference.