Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
~ Proverbs 16:24
Last weekend John and I went to Lexington. My mom and step-dad were having a yard sale and I’d told John he could have his own sale and keep the proceeds as long as he did the haggling and heavy lifting. I saw a side of my son I’d never seen before. He’s twelve, but he’s tall for his age and has a very deep voice, so most people assume he’s several years older. He’s always been chatty, willing to offer an opinion on nearly any topic and debate any issue. This hasn’t always been a quality appreciated by his teachers.
But last Saturday he was a yard sale rock star. I stayed nearby, close enough to see that he wasn’t uncomfortable and wasn’t being targeted by a quick-change artist . . . but not really close enough to hear more than snippets of conversation. He greeted customers as they arrived, chatted with them about what they might be in the market for that day, demonstrated products and was quick to make deals when interest was shown. I watched the people’s faces as John talked to them, and almost without exception they smiled at him, their eyes sparkled, they leaned in closer, and they spent a few minutes with him whether they bought anything or not.
An older woman saw me and my mother sitting on the porch stoop nearby and came up to ask whose son John was. When I claimed him she smiled and said, “He’s so charming! There wasn’t anything on his table I needed, but I bought this just because he was so sweet I couldn’t leave without buying anything.” She held up a little magnetic notepad he’d priced at 25 cents.
On the trip home I told John how proud I was of him, not just because of how hard he’d worked to make money for the computer he wants, but because how polite and friendly he was to everyone all day. I reminded him how easy it was for someone – the waitress who took his order in a restaurant, the person who checked out his library book, the guy at his favorite video game store – to make his day much better or worse just by the way they spoke and behaved. I told him some of the elderly people who’d dropped by the yard sale may have been doing it more for social interaction than actually shopping for anything, and that those people had especially enjoyed getting his undivided attention and having someone new to talk with . . . even if it was just for a few minutes. He’s a pretty cool kid, and I’m very proud of him.
Oh, and I’d really like to hunt down that Mother’s Day Out director he had when he was three years old that had nothing but horrible things to say about him and essentially told me he was destined to be a complete failure academically and socially. I’d send her this blog post and his most recent report card with a note about how heavily her words weighed on my mind for many years. Words have power, be they pleasant or otherwise.
Today I’m linking up to both Saints and Scripture Sunday and Spiritual Sundays.