There’s not enough time in this life to teach our children everything we want them to know. And so, naturally, they learn by what we do. They learn by being with us. They emulate who we are or who we are not and should be.
Today my daughter and I went to the bathroom in the airport. When we walked in, the bathroom cleaning attendant was standing there. My daughter said hi to her and then added, “I like your glasses.” I could tell the attendant wasn’t expecting that and she seemed happy as she responded with a thanks. As I was in the stall a few moments later I heard the attendant ask my daughter “You think green, ah?”
In the bathrooms in the Miami airport there are smiley faces you can push to represent the condition of the bathroom. My daughter and I had talked about those earlier so I knew when I heard the attendant that my daughter had pushed the green button, the best selection you can make. I heard my daughter respond, “Yes, you are working really hard.”
And in that moment when my daughter couldn’t see me and didn’t know I was listening, I was so proud of her. I wasn’t proud because she was being nice, although that is a wonderful quality. She saw her. Really saw the bathroom attendant. And that’s why I was proud. A lady of a different culture, a different skin shade, a different generation, and a different profession than what my child is likely to aspire to. None of those facts mattered because she really saw her. If she can see others as a 12 year old, I know she can continue to see others as a teen and as an adult. I know that we will survive the teenage years that are approaching fast.
My daughter didn’t mention it when we left the bathroom. I’ll never forget it. A simple “I like your glasses” was really so much more.