I was driving through Pasadena on my way to Palm Springs. I found a local coffee shop to refuel myself. I wasn’t the only one with this bright idea. The place was packed. I ordered my drink and went outside to wait the 10 or so minutes until my iced, specialty drink was done.
On the patio I saw a mother and what appeared to be her 11 year-old son. She was yelling at him and he had what can only be called a pre-teen attitude and stance. It was a Saturday, and by all means a beautiful California day.
The mother went inside, I believe to go to the bathroom, still angry. I said hello to her son. I found him engaging and sweet. When I went into the coffee shop, this young man opened the door for me.
After I got my drink, his mother walked past me. Her son was on my other side. In an instant without even thinking, I said, “Excuse me, is this young man your son?” She looked at me with suspicion. I can’t say I blame her. She said, “Yes.” I then said, “He is a delightful young man. And so polite, he opened the door for me when I walked in.”
In less than a nano-second this very angry mother walked up to the boy, put her arm around him and said, “Do you know how proud that makes me feel?” He immediately changed his body language and they left the café.
I took a moment to acknowledge to myself that this very short interaction changed the course of their day. No matter how the rest of their afternoon went, for that brief moment, they closed the distance and anger that they both felt.
For me, I couldn’t help but realize just how big a small, positive acknowledgment can mean to someone else.