The food court was packed. In fact we only got seats because a young family, seeing me looking around, got up and gave us their table. I knew they were doing this for me, a nice gesture to the man int he wheelchair, but sometimes I'll take the advantage. We tucked into the table then tucked into our meals and chatted about the day.
When we were done the place was still hopping, lots of mothers with their kids, lots of laughing, it was a nice atmosphere. Joe got up to put our tray away and appeared beside me was a mother and her daughter, who may have been 14, and whose shyness was clearly evident. They were carrying trays and I was about to offer the table when mom's finger shot out shushing me. Mother's probably never lose that skill.
I waited for a second when her daughter gathered up her courage and said to me, "Are you finished with the table," it sounded practiced but it also sounded like a voice that was growing right along with her. I told her that the table would be free and yes of course they could have it. Her face burst into a big smile and said thank you.
I don't think that she was smiling as much because of the table itself but that she had managed to push through her shyness and ask for it. I saw mom watching her with incredible pride.
Who knows what the back story is and maybe it matters less than the fact that this mom, right now, is teaching her daughter to speak up, to speak out, to use her voice. I glanced back at them and I saw mom with her hand over her daughters and leaned in, speaking to her. I don't know what she was saying but I'm guessing 'proud' was one of the words.