Today was a school holiday in our district, which means I had three kids at home and a long list of errands that had to get done regardless. The list included washing the dog, folding the laundry, buying pumpkins for a school project for my second graders and returning overdue books to the library. The kids were excited about going to the library and we ended up with lots of new books (refer to my post on simplifying - sigh...). It was about lunch time when we finished at the library and I had Friendly's coupons in the car, so we headed out to eat - a special treat for my kids.
Friendly's was VERY busy, due to the holiday, and the service was understandably slow. Beside us was a mom with three little ones. The oldest was probably 5, and the youngest was still in a high chair. They were so calm and well behaved. I was very impressed with how kind they were to one another, and how soft spoken their mother was. She was even dressed in nice clothes, wore make-up, and had pulled a brush through her hair.
In comparison, my kids are NEVER calm and very rarely well-behaved, and I was wearing my ten year old tie-dye t-shirt with small holes in it, no make-up, and a pony-tail. In an attempt to keep my children from disturbing those around us too much, I have developed a series of techniques that make waiting time a little less painful. We had most of the books from the library with us at the table, so I read to them. Then we played a version of pictionary together. We practiced spelling words (I really had no idea that "president" could be spelled so many different ways). I told them stories. I have no doubt that I threatened them a few times, too, since that's part of the arsenal. Lunch finally came and we started to eat. That was about the same time the family beside us finished their meal. As they were preparing to leave, the mom came to me, put her hand on my arm, and said "You are the BEST MOM! We all wish we were like you are with your kids."
I laughed and thanked her as graciously as I could. It was a very kind and unexpected comment that made my whole week. It also made me think. It's so easy to judge. How funny to think that my survival techniques had been judged as "good parenting" when I was thinking that her children must live in a wonderful, calm environment to be so quiet and kind to one another without any entertainment at all.
So thank you, my anonymous new friend. I appreciate your kindness. What a great example you were to your kids today, and to mine.