I was having one of those amazing “tea parties” at the pool a couple of years ago with my grand-daughter, Ava, then three years old. This experience can only happen between a grandmother and her granddaughter. My little Ava poured me a cup of tea to which I respectfully said, “Thank you very much” and I was a little surprised when she replied, “Pleasure, my job.” I was sure that she had picked that up from some fine dining at the Ritz. When her mom picked her up later that day, I told her about the experience. Misty quickly informed me that she must have learned that customer service phrase (Ava’s version of the phrase) from Chick-fil-a. She mentioned that at Chic-fil-a they say something very similar and Ava LOVES to go there. My daughter had no idea that Ava had noticed or picked up on the phrase.
It made me stop and think: what am I saying or doing that is influencing the children/young adults in my life and I am not even aware? What words are they choosing to repeat that they hear me speak? What attitudes are reflections of the ones that I demonstrate?
Children are sponges. We think that if they are playing peacefully at our feet, engaged in an activity and not looking at us that they are not soaking up what we are saying and/or doing. My daughter Misty had not observed that Ava had shown any interest in the process of ordering or receiving food at Chick-fil-a. Obviously, she was keenly aware and knew how to use the term correctly. It was a reminder to us of how much our children observe about their everyday world.
“You have to be very careful about what you say.
More importantly, you have to be very careful about what you do.
You never know how or when you influence people – especially children.”
– Truett Cathy founder of Chick-fil-a
Obviously, he was right!
I believe that it is very easy to forget how impressionable children are, so a gentle reminder serves us all well. If I have been helpful to anyone today, well, it was a, “Pleasure, my job”.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers