Last night, Luke and I met Justin for dinner at a little Italian restaurant around the corner from our house. We had only been there once before, but I had really loved it and had anticipated going back.
When we walked in, I was struck again with the little joys of this place: green and white penny tile flooring, the glow of tea lights, and these white and pink roses, dotted with cranberries.
As we sat down and got settled, I took my phone out and snapped a quick photo, as you see above. As I was doing so, the waitress swept over and greeted us, began asking what we would like to drink. Slightly embarrassed at being caught doing something so vaguely rude and touristy as photographing flowers in a restaurant, I quickly slipped my phone away and stammered an awkward hello (it's true - and I have the "live photo" evidence to prove it).
Rather than be annoyed at yet another person tinkering with their phone at the dinner table, the waitress smiled and asked, "Are you taking photos of my flowers?" Relieved that I wasn't being quietly chided for this minor faux pas, I admitted that yes, I was, and that they were beautiful, launching us into a polite, light-hearted discussion about flowers. Frivolous? Yes. Refreshing? Also yes.
The night was punctuated by a lady who had been dining with her husband, approaching our table to tell us the following: "What a good baby. He was a delight to watch at dinner. Was that him singing?"
Anyone who has dined out with a toddler knows that things aren't always predictable. Sometimes there's shrieking. Sometimes there's crying. Sometimes there are loud outbursts of talking. Sometimes there is the throwing of any number of table-top objects. Luke is, usually, relatively good at the dinner table, since he loves to eat and socialize. He hadn't been perfect at this dinner (really, what child ever is?), but I had counted it as a success, because he had devoured the manicotti, drunk plenty of water, and had, in fact, been singing (at a polite volume).
But for a stranger to approach your dinner table, simply to sing your child's well-mannered praises? Well, that is something very special indeed. A small act of kindness, which definitely does not go unnoticed.
And as the lady walked away, I smiled and said to Justin, "Really, there is no higher praise than that." I am thankful for the kind of dinner we had last night, because to me, it's the small kindnesses that sometimes make the biggest difference.