Are You Really Listening?
A single dad took his six-year-old daughter out for dinner and when he went to pay for their meal the waitress handed him a note and said the bill had been taken care of.
The note was written by a couple who had left several minutes prior. The couple explained how they had been watching the man and his little date and they were so impressed by what a great dad he was.
The note said,
“From two adults who grew up without dads, it is so important to have a male role model at a young age. Keep up the good work, Dad! Dinner is on us.“
I dare to say the encouragement from those complete strangers energized and gave this dad a thankful heart overflowing with pride.
I know the feeling.
During one of my husband’s many six-month deployments, I was shopping with my two younger children. The Med Cruise had just begun, and we were in our first month of separation.
The kids didn’t want to go shopping, they wanted their Daddy.
“Daddy is nice to us. You aren’t nice anymore,” one of them said as we were in the checkout line.
It was an off day for all of us and it took everything I could to fight back the tears ready to roll down my face when the gentleman in front of me turned around.
Glancing at me with a smile, he turned his attention to my kids.
“Oh, I bet your mommy is nice, too.”
Shyly looking up at him from the shopping cart, they both shook their heads.
“Really? She doesn’t look like she’s mean.”
“That’s cause she’s not your mom,” my youngest piped up.
“No, but I bet there are kids who would love her for a mom. You know, some children don’t have moms to take care of them. Maybe we could give her to one of the kids who want a mom.”
I looked at my kids as their eyes became bigger, noticing my daughter was fighting back her own tears.
“We are all having one of those hard days today. Tomorrow will be better,” I said, as I wiped a single tear inching its way down my daughter’s cheek.
As the man finished paying for his items, he looked back at us with a wink and handed each of my kids a lollipop.
“Tell you what,” he said. “Here is a sucker for each of you. Everyone has bad days; maybe these will help make your day a little better. Would you like one?”
The kids both nodded their heads.
“If I give you these, you have to do something nice for someone else. Maybe you can make your mom’s day nice today, too. Deal?”
Reaching for the candy, they both agreed and thanked the man for their treat.
That night after dinner, I found two drawings placed on the kitchen counter.
“Mommy is my best friend.”
“Mommy is nice.”
It ended up not being such a bad day after all.
What Listening Can Do
Sometimes we overhear conversations that could be opportunities to offer an encouraging word.
The screaming kid in the grocery store, the single parent exasperated at the playground or the cashier who appears to be a little annoyed.
Next time you’re out running errands, remember to listen with your heart as well as your ears.
There are many opportunities for each of us to spread a little sunshine on someone’s day.