Tiny Things Big Difference




I have three children. Twins, who are almost 18 months old, and a 5 year old. All boys. For any parent reading this, you know that weekends can sometimes feel like a humongous physical, emotional and mental test. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my children deeply, and I’m so proud of my family and incredibly grateful for the life I have. But weekends, at least recently, have been tough. After long days at work, I miss those relaxing, peaceful, worry free, mess free, quiet and spontaneous weekends by myself or with my wife. It makes me think that I didn’t appreciate those days enough when I had them… Alas, my reality is different now, but more meaningful, and abundant of love. Which is why when my wonderful wife turns around and tells me that I should take a couple of hours for myself to do what I like, I thank her and jump at the opportunity. Fortunately, my wife is amazing and offers this on a weekly basis, when my 5 year old goes to his Saturday french school. The twins stay home with her, have a nap, and I like to think that she gets that time to rest up too… That’s not always the case though.

So today, on this grey and cold Saturday morning, I dropped my boy off to French school. Literally ‘dropped’ him because we were late, so I had to dump the car in the least illegal parking space I could find, pull Noel out of the car, and pretty much swing him over a fence (which has become our best new shortcut by the way), and rush him to meet his group before they head into class. He made it, so aside from blocking some traffic behind me, I don’t have to feel too bad about anything right now. I proceeded to find a nearby legal parking space this time, and walked over to my usual café, Il Sovrano, in West Dulwich (a real gem of a place and perfectly suited to young families looking for a place to grab a warm drink and a snack). I knew I had about 90 minutes to get creative and write something for my blog. Only I sat down at a table and had no clue what I could write about. I guess the morning rush and long work week left me all but uninspired to put anything down on paper.

Cut to 5 minutes later, a waitress, Lina, came to my table, cleared it, wiped it, and asked what I’d like to have. I recognised her from last Saturday, she had served me then too. To my biggest surprise, she recognised me as well. I’m not sure how, seeing as this place is always busy, and there must be more than a thousand people passing through the doors on a weekly basis. But she did, and what she said next inspired to write this blog post.

“It’s so nice that you come to see us every weekend”. With a very nice and kind smile. And then she took my order.

Lina at Il Sovrano, West Dulwich

OK – so I’ve only been here 3 or 4 times at the most, on a weekend. I only remember her from last weekend. But man, this made me feel seen, welcome and appreciated… like I mattered in a place where I expected it the least.

It’s odd, because I now question why I didn’t get to Lina first and asked “It’s nice to see you again, how are you this weekend?”. I suppose we get so caught up in our lives that we forget how special something like this can be. We perhaps feel that the most obvious thing to say is the thing we shouldn’t say. Here are some reasons my subconscious might have held me back from greeting her in this way:

Lina at Il Sovrano, West Dulwich

If you’re honest with yourself, I’m sure you can relate. Or maybe I’m just cynical, rude, self-centred and complicated. But that’s not the point of all this.

The point is that Lina, regardless of what she thought I might think, made a point of saying something kind that made an impact. You could argue that it is her job to serve people who come to snack here, and that she’s begun to notice the regulars, and that she might just have this line scripted and rehearsed in her mind that it’s just become a habit for her. I don’t really care what the reason is, but I do care that she made that small effort. I care that she cared enough to make me feel welcome and seen. It’s rare in this world that people take the time to notice you and tell you about it. A lot of life has become so fast and so much goodness can easily get lost in a rushed world that often seems full of complaints, negativity, problems and frustration. So it’s important to point out the goodness and the love when it is offered.

I thought about how I could have missed what she told me completely. I could have been so caught up in my order preference, or the noise around me, or in what I need to get done, that I might have missed this special moment, this gift. But I didn’t. I caught it, I cherished it, and I told her about it. I noticed her with another customer upon my arrival and heard her speaking Italian, so I decided to explain to her how much of an impact she made on my day, with so little. Funnily enough, she knew exactly what moment I was referring to, and agreed that most often, the smallest bunch of kind words and gestures can make the world of difference to someone. It could have been a purposeful smile, a gentle touch on the shoulder, a compliment about what I was wearing, or a simple ‘Are you OK?’… it could have been anything to recognise my presence and existence in that moment, and it really didn’t have to be much at all. Like I said, to some, it can be so small that it sadly goes unnoticed.

The other point I’d like to make is the trickle down effect Lina’s kind words will have on me, at least for a while. Will it elevate me? Yes. Will it encourage me to pay it forward? Yes. Will I be in a better mood once I collect my boy from French school and proceed to spend the weekend together as a family? Hell yes. That’s crazy. Think about the impact. And then think about how the person(s) I pay it forward to will be impacted… will it elevate them? Yes. Will it encourage them to pay it forward? Hell yes. This is the wonder of kindness, the magic of the little things. It takes so little to make a huge difference.

So, if you’ve read this far and you feel inspired by this post, I encourage you to do something about it. Tell a total stranger that you like their hat. Tell them that they smell nice. Show them that they are seen and that they matter. And let me know how that works out for you. Something tells me you’ll feel better for it, and perhaps make it a habit. And I wouldn’t be surprised if someone pays it forward to you almost immediately. Kindness breeds kindness, and it really doesn’t take much at all. You have the power, every day, to make or break someone’s day. So which will it be?


Ready to get elevated?