05/22/2012 10:58 am ET Updated Jul 22, 2012

Speak Your Love

"Wow! Everyone in this town knows their ABCs!" My daughter couldn't get over that. A whole bus full of little kids and their moms, on a field trip together, belting out the ABC song. Not only that, but this wasn't just any bus. It was a school bus, and Katie wasn't even in school yet.

That sigh! I could tell from the look on her face that this was almost too much happiness to process.

We pressed our noses against her window for most of that hour-long ride, and compared notes all the way. "Look at that, Mom!" she'd say. "Have you ever seen one of those, Katie?" I'd ask. We waved at the people below us, inside the cars in the next lane, sure they were jealous of our vantage point. Mostly we snuggled, tickled and saw which one of us could out-silly the other.

One day on a playground, weeks later, a woman walked up to me and told me she'd been on that bus. "I couldn't take my eyes off the two of you," she said. "And I kept thinking, 'That is one lucky kid.'"

You can imagine the sweet exchange we had, then. It's been more than a dozen years, and I still light up whenever I see her. She caught me being a good mom, and she helped me become a better one -- because I wanted to live up to that surprise report card.

Katie's a teenager now. Any surprise parenting report cards tend to be some variation of, "You don't know nothin'!"

But I ask you. What could possibly be the harm in pulling someone aside and saying, "You know, this is really none of my business. But I think what you're doing is amazing"?