The Kind Words of a Stranger

Although social norms may deem it odd, sometimes it is absolutely wonderful when a stranger tells you what they think. Today as I was coming home with the boys, pushing Declan in the stroller with one hand, bags hanging from every possible place, a pizza box in my other hand, we waited for the elevator with a woman I had never talked to before.

I gave Brady the keys and asked him to hold them for me so I could unlock the door when we got home. “I can’t unlock the door,” he said to me. “I know,” I replied, “you’re holding them to help me out.” The woman waiting with us smiled at him. The elevator arrived and I maneuvered the stroller with all of it’s cargo and the pizza box into it. I pushed our floor and asked the woman for hers. She reached out and said she had it.

Then she looked up at me and smiled. “I don’t want to seem weird,” she said, smiling, “and I know I don’t know you, but I just had to tell you…” she hesitated, but I smiled at her so she went on. “I tell my sister about you and your husband and kids all the time.”

“Really?” I asked taken back a little.

“It’s just the way that you talk to them and the way you interact,” she told me, “and the way they behave. You’re just a lovely family.”

“Really?” I said again, smiling this time.

“Yeah, so I just wanted to tell you,” she finished.

We arrived at our floor and started to remove ourselves and our stuff from the elevator. She stepped out to help us.

“That just really made my day,” I told her. She gave me her name and said it was nice to meet me and I did the same. I hope she knows that it really did make my day. As a parent I often feel inadequate and in public, even in the lobby and elevator of our building, I often feel judged. People rarely hesitate to hand out criticisms. Just this morning a traffic cop leaned out of her van to reprimand me for having Declan’s stroller slightly off the sidewalk as we waited at a light. For someone to have noticed my family and especially to have noticed the way we talk and interact and think it was something nice to witness makes me feel sort of amazing. While I try to keep my children under control when we’re around other people, I’m certainly not trying to be the picture of a nice family when we’re coming and going from our apartment. It just blew me away that my family made any impression on a stranger and it really did made my day that she took the time to mention it to me. Sometimes, it’s good to say the weird thing to that lady on the elevator. It just might make it all seem easier.

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8 responses

  1. Super post, super story! Maybe she even gave you guys a pet name. “The awesome family”, “the cuties”, “the moomins” (Swedish-Finnish cartoon made from a book – they are adorable!)

    xoxo, Eszter

  2. Yes, that is the kind of stranger-input that’s always welcome, in my book. I have had the experience a few times, usually at a fast-food restaurant or in the waiting area, when a random adult decides to tell me how wonderfully I interact with the boys or how bright they seem or polite. It’s so wonderful.

    It feels like a sort of balance for all the well-deserved glares and eye rolling when the boys are…less well-behaved.

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