When my kids were too young to stay home by themselves, I had no choice but to take them with me whenever I ran errands. Three boys can be loud and rambunctious when they're doing an activity that's not of their choosing. I was forever on them to stop messing around and be quiet, and would get very annoyed when an older person would smile and tell them they weren't all that bad.
Today I got to be "that guy" and compliment someone else's kids when they were messing around.
I was bagging my groceries after doing the big shopping, and the woman next to me had two boys who looked to be approximately 7 and 4 years old. They were sitting on the bagging counter. Every once in a while they'd look at each other, giggle, then the younger one would poke the older one and they'd giggle some more. Every minute or so the mom would say in a stern tone, "stop being so loud" or "be quiet".
I actually didn't think the boys were being bad at all (based on my recollections of grocery trips from decades past); they were kind of cute. After the third time the mom corrected them, I looked over and said (so they boys could hear also), "Oh, I don't think they're being bad...I think they're being pretty good". Mom tried to look annoyed, but then smiled at the compliment. I then asked the boys, "which one of you is being the good one today"? They both raised their hands and giggled.
When I got home I was relaying the story to Donald. He told me he remembered a similar experience in church--I had been on them the entire time to settle down, only to have an older person come up afterwards and compliment him on his behavior. He remembers that this person even gave him a mint!
I wonder if my compliment will stick in these boys' minds?