Some Old Lady Likes My Kids
As is often the case when I’m out and about with my kids, strangers do often stop me in my tracks to give their honest opinions on what they observe.
“Oh! Aren’t they precious?”
“What beautiful children you have!”
“Looks like you’ve got your hands full!”
I get it. My kids are the embodiment of cray cray adorbs. I mean, this is a 100 percent unbiased opinion but they are without a doubt the cutest darn kids on the planet. So thank you for noticing, everyone else. That’s very kind and predictable. And yes, you are doubly right, I certainly do have my hands full.
My daughter is 3.5 and my son is 1.5. When combined, they outnumber me by a billion. I’m a Stay-At-Home-Dad. It’s like my thing, I guess. But staying at home drives us bonkers a lot of the time so being a work-in-progress, hopefully halfway decent parent, I do try to get them out of the house every once in awhile. But it’s winter here on the East coast and, for now, that still means it’s pretty cold outside. So our options for fun are limited. We tend to go out to lunch more than the aquarium because lunch is a lot closer and it doesn’t take too much of a commitment.
The other day, we were at some nameless, unimpressive restaurant and things were going pretty much as I might have expected. The mac and cheese my daughter ordered was too fancy for her and she wouldn’t touch it. This was after she ordered a chocolate milk despite me telling her, “Are you sure honey? Because it probably won’t taste like the chocolate milk we have at home and I don’t think you’re going to like it. Do you think you’d rather have apple juice?” No, she replied. She was adamant on chocolate milk. OK, I thought. It’s my funeral.
“Yuck, I hate this chocolate milk!”
My son, bless him, wanted nothing to do with the mac and cheese either. (I tried it, it wasn’t anything special. Pretty bland, if I’m being honest. So I guess I was with both of them in their assessment.) Nor did the boy want his grilled cheese. I tried it, he was right. It was definitely lacking in the butter department. All right, so the place was sub-par at best. I plowed through my burger as fast as I could (not tasty) and we began the process of paying and leaving, unappeased. Whatever.
I got their jackets on and the girl took off. She’s good though. She stayed where I could see her. She wanted to go and poke the wall with the water running down it. I put my son on his two feet and he chased after her while I signed the bill.
There weren’t a lot of people in the restaurant, despite the fact that it was shortly after noon on a Saturday and a town local had recommended it as one of the few good places nearby to go for chow.
Full disclosure, we’d traveled a bit to run some boring errand. Something to do with the car. Yawn. You don’t want to know. I just thought I’d mention it because earlier I stated that we tend to go out to lunch nearby because it’s closer than the aquarium. We all paying attention? Good. Because the old lady is about to kick the door down.
The Old Lady Gets Me
“What beautiful children you have!”
OK so maybe she didn’t exactly kick the door down. She couldn’t have been kinder, actually.
I said “thank you very much” because I’m not a monster. I took one step forward, toward my off-the-leash children, and the old lady kept talking. So I let her. I still had the kids in my sight and a couple waitresses seemed to be enamored with them so I let it be for now.
The old lady was sitting at a table with her son. She introduced him as Brian. I assume that’s how he spelled his name. He didn’t tell me. But I did share that my name was Bryon too and oh how we laughed. Well no, not exactly, but it was a throwaway “ah, small world” kinda moment. Ain’t it though?
Brian was nodding in all the right places as his mom went on about how she had five kids because “that’s just what you did in those days.” And now her kids are all grown up and I should cherish every minute with my own. I agreed, of course, and was cordial as can be while the whole time I was watching my babes running around laughing and thinking to myself, “How much time do I have here with this old lady before I get a look from a waitress or some patron that reads, ‘Why aren’t you corralling your kids, Dad? Hmm?’”
There was only goodness and warmth coming from the old lady. She just generally wanted to tell a stranger a little about her life and share with me a snippet or two of wisdom about raising children, all while sitting across from one of her own five offspring. I guess that’s what old people do. They reflect and they share and they take their time even though they are probably the ones who should be rushing to get to the point.
I’m sure I didn’t seem rude. She was smiling, I think, for the entire encounter. We couldn’t have chatted for more than three minutes and she did most of the talking. I’m sure her son picked up on my antsy moves, subtle or even as non-apparent as they may have been. Was I leaning towards my kids? Did I take a step or two in their direction? I’m sure I did. Because it was time to wrap up this lunch experience and get going before one of them broke a dish or smashed their face against the mystifying water wall. This is parenting.
It was a pleasant encounter. I don’t know why I’m making it out to be anything less than that. Sometimes I just wish I could put the wee ones on pause and take a breath and have a better listen to what someone else is saying. It would be nice to turn off that voice in my head that is always begging me to keep it going, move on to the next thing, pick the babes up and go. Some of that has to be the blame of our smart phones, right? Like, at least 85 percent. That sounds low.
To the old lady who only had nice things to say, I’m glad you were able to enjoy lunch out with your grown son Brian, and I’m touched that my unrestrained children put a smile on your face. Though I believe you’re the kind of person who smiles most of the time anyway, it was still awfully nice to meet you. I am sorry that you had nowhere close to my full attention. Surely you understand. Things couldn’t have been that different in your day. Could they? Now that I think of it, back then, it was the norm to let your kids run wild in the streets as long as they came home for supper. That part of parenting couldn’t be more different today. Well, the sentiments remain the same. As always.
Bless you. Bless the children. Party on.