Today, in my very limited contact with adults, I ran into three MOAT moms…. and loved getting to hear how the dollars are working in different homes. Not that its about the bucks. Around here, the green machine jump-started behavior that should have been normal course of business. But as I’ve admitted many times since the beginning of this adventure, we needed CPR/artificial resuscitation/defibrillation … well, we needed a wake up call. Apparently, we’re not the only ones.

One friend had their family meeting (thanks to Dottie Jones’ Table Talk) last weekend to discuss eminent changes. It may have been the unmade beds and messy bathrooms that were instigating the change, but a big fat dose of respect was being added to the arsenal. For this family, “yes mam” and “no mam” (or sir) have found a new home. The words had better be flying off the tongues (to any elder — from the lunch lady to the principal), or the bills will be out of the jar. They have the rest of the month to practice and get used to the change before docking begins. They’re still figuring out how much will be docked and how much will be rewarded, but they have all decided the family is lacking in just plain respect of and for others.

It’s not about formality associated with a “yes mam”. It’s about acknowledging someone. Humbling yourself, being polite, courteous, considerate. It’s about realizing that people are worth that. Kids have either forgotten, or never knew. Okay … maybe not just kids… throw the adults in there, too.

It might surprise all of us to see how even the slightest recognition can profoundly affect someone.

A few years ago, when my oldest was six, I dragged myself, and our four little munchkins, into one of our favorite sandwich shops for lunch. As we walked in, the first thing I noticed was a morbidly obese woman at the counter ordering her meal.

Anyone with little children can appreciate that, without warning, unfortunate/uncensored/not-meaning-to-be-malicious things can come out of their mouths. I said a quick prayer that my kids would keep any commentary to themselves. It was about this time I felt a tug on my skirt.

“MOM”, loud whispered my sweet, incredibly sensitive, 4-yr-old daughter. “MOM! … Look at that lady over there!” Arm outstretched, her finger emphatically pointed to the overweight woman at the counter.

I couldn’t believe that this child, of all my kids, would be the one to inform the diners that a large person was in our midst.

“Sshhh!! Don’t say a word!” I hissed.
“But Mom. Can I go say something to her”
“No!” My word!
Dejected she quietly informed me, “I just wanted to tell her how pretty she looks.”

There are some moments when I would just like to moonwalk to the closest exit, or rewind and get a second chance. This is one that I will never forget. I told her she could absolutely go to the woman.

She ooched her way through the line and made her way to the woman. Now she tugged on her skirt.

“Excuse me mam,” the sweet little voice spoke.
The woman looked around, then down. You could almost see her physically/emotionally brace herself for what she knew was coming. Her emotions were about to nail her, just not as she expected.

“Excuse me.”
“Yes? … May I help you?”
“I just wanted to tell you how pretty you look. I think your skirt looks so pretty with your boots.”
(And you know, she was right. The skirt did look great with those boots.)

The woman choked out a “thank you” and my daughter skipped back to us.

We ordered and sat down to wait for our meals. The event had come and gone. My daughter had matter-of-factly done what she would have to anyone, any size, any color … with not one thought of herself. That’s where it ended.

Until the woman stopped by our table on her way out. I didn’t see her coming, but felt a hand on my shoulder. With tears in her eyes, she said to me, “You have no idea what your daughter did for me today. …. Thank you.”

And that was it. A profound lesson on the impact that a small moment of courtesy and other-mindedness can have on another human life.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

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