When we take our children out into the world, we have a lot to manage. We strategize, corral, and buffer, but stuff still happens. We do our best to teach our children appropriate behavior, we hover, and warn, but they're still our special little darlings doing their special little things. We're met with mixed reactions. I'll never forget the time I was trying to steer my boy through a crowd at a Crawfish Festival, and he stole a french fry from a lady who was holding them right at his eye level. She was not cool with it at all. I apologized and tried to explain, but she stormed off before I could get any words out. I will never forget that withering can't-you-control-your-own-child look she gave me for the awful offense of a stolen fry. It still bothers me that she wouldn't take a moment to understand.
But I'm not here to write about her.
See, I think that lady sticks out in my mind because she wasn't understanding, and I think most people are, or try to be. Thanksgiving is upon us and I want to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful people who have been calm and understanding when things get a little flappy. So here's my open letter to just some of those cool people out there:
To the lady in the restaurant whose water glass my son reached into to steal the ice. Thanks for being cool. You could tell he was agitated and that we were exhausted. It was too nice a restaurant for us to be in that day, but you couldn't have been nicer. You'll never know how great the words, "It's fine! Don't worry about it" can be to hear.
To the guys in our local hardware store. Thanks for being cool. Every Saturday morning, my husband brings the boy in so he can look at the tools and script from Handy Manny. Sometimes he gets really worked up and runs up and down the aisles at seven a.m., but you never say a word--even the time he went hillbilly hand-fishing in the bait tank. We love you guys.
To the Spanish-speaking family on the crowded bus that day. Thanks for being cool. You were clearly having an important conversation when my son got up in your faces and screamed, "Rojo!" See, he was learning Spanish in school, and could tell you were speaking it, and that was the only word he knew. You just smiled and nodded and said, "Si! Rojo!" I tried to imagine what it would've been like if the situation were reversed: if I were sitting with my family and a little kid yelled the word "Red!" in my face. I bet that was weird.
To the man in Starbucks conducting a video conference on his laptop. Thanks for being cool. While I may question the wisdom of your conducting a video conference on a laptop in Starbucks, I will never question your awesomeness. My hands were full of hot coffee when the boy slipped away from me and ran up next to you and became a part of your meeting. You smiled and said, "Hello, there!" You could not have anticipated that he would remove your headset, rub your bald scalp, and announce, "Hair is ALL GONE!" You handled it so gracefully. You laughed and said, "Why, yes it is," as I dragged the boy away. I hope your client appreciated the moment and that you landed that new account or whatever it is that people do when they conduct video conferences.
And to anyone else who has ever held a door, or held their tongues, thank you. If you walked past a meltdown without passing judgement, thank you. And even better, if you've taken joy from the joy my son finds in the world, thank you.
Thanks for being cool.