I was standing on the subway platform today when my attention was drawn to an adorable child walking too close to the edge for comfort. Apparently her mother thought likewise as she abruptly grabbed the little girl by the arm and tugged her to safety.

“You do NOT stand that close to the edge! Do you hear me? Never! Yellow means danger! DANGER! Do you want to DIE? Do you want to fall in there and get run over!” The mother coarsely and rather loudly scolded. It seemed a bit over the top even if her reaction was due to loving panic. “Do you understand me young lady?” she continued. “Do you? Look at me!”

The three or four-year-old child innocently looked up. Instead of hurt or understanding, I was almost amused to see that she sported a look of genuine bewilderment. She truly looked perplexed.

“Well…?” her mother prodded tapping her foot. “Do you understand me?”

“But mommy, you said yellow means happy. I was just trying to make you happy.”

I held my breath momentarily, unsure of how her sweet reply would be received. On instinct, the mother immediately opened her mouth as if to retort only to find herself speechless. She sighed, transformed back into the compassionate mother that fear had chased away, and knelt down to talk to her daughter on a more intimate level. With love and understanding in her voice she then thoughtfully replied, “I did say that didn’t I? I’m so sorry I got upset, I just got really scared because I love you so much and I don’t want you to get hurt. You are such a good listener and such a quick learner. And you are absolutely right, in some cases yellow does mean happy. But do you want to know a secret about yellow?”

“Yes!” the little girl who’d melted her mother’s heart exclaimed.
“Yellow can also mean danger! Did you know that?”
“Really? How do you know?” she inquired.
The mother, now smiling at her precious daughter replied, “That’s a great question.” And their conversation so ensued.

What an impressive daughter. And what an impressive mother. Who wouldn’t panic at seeing their child and world so close to peril? But then to hear that mother humbly apologize to her child for her harshness and immediately return to her nurturing nature was awe-inspiring. I commend her for the way she gently made amends and affectionately cared to her daughter. I doubt that mother will soon forget that beautiful moment and the lessons she learned. I know I certainly will long reflect on their experience.

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