This weekend, I was sitting next to a dad with two small boys. One was probably two or less and was very cranky because he wanted another donut hole and it was naptime. Dad was firmly saying no you have already had 5 or something. The boy was in his lap and squirming like crazy as Dad was holding him back and managing the situation as best he could. On his right and my left was the other older boy who started to hand his backpack to the dad. Dad clearly did not need anything else on his plate and told the other boy Eric, no put it there beside you. Well, Eric didn’t like that answer, didn’t want to be ignored or put off and Dad in his frustration said, Eric, you have got to help me here. Please!
A few more moments of this exchange went by. I observed. I considered not saying anything but after a while I said to Eric, you are such a big help to your dad. How old are you? Dad said he is 4 but his birthday is next week. To which I replied, oh no wonder you are a big help, you are a wonderful big brother! When I started talking to Eric I could see his wheels turning. He was processing what I was saying and before you know it, he was proud big brother helper! He placed the backpack in its place and then proceeded to help Dad with the giant stroller. I commended him for how strong he was and how awesome he was that Dad could really count on him. He was beaming, walking tall and most helpful to his grateful dad.
That kid was 4 going on 5. We are all that kid. Our customers, clients, coworkers are all that kid. See them at their best and watch them make you right, right before your very eyes. Sometimes in adults it takes more than one encounter, of course, but it will happen.