16 August, 2012

The Man and the Airplane

A few weeks back John Ross had his first dentist appointment. In preparation for his little boy anxiety (couldn't he have just gotten my eyes???), I scheduled the appointment first thing in the morning. I stuffed granola bars down their throats on the way to the office since an 8:00 appointment didn't allow much time for their leisurely breakfasts.

Ultimately, the appointment went well. They looked at his teeth and even cleaned them ("Mama, I don't like that sandy stuff..."). He didn't even gag once! (That trait could be attributed to me, but I'm going to pin it on his daddy). So, I decided to make up their morning nutritional balance with a special treat: McDonalds!

I rail against the fast-food mentality of our culture, but there is just nothing like a McSchmuffin for a special treat. However, anyone who has been to a typical McDonalds in the morning knows the scene: business people, moms and college students in the drive-thru, the senior and shift-work crowd in the dining room.

So, I march in there with my two under 3, order a breakfast platter with milk and a McSchmuffin and procede to herd them into a booth. After a few squabbles over the shared milk, we settled into a nice meal. We often talk about where our food comes from and this morning was no different. They were for the most part well-behaved little friends.

As I began to tidy our trash and older gentleman walked up to the table. He begins with the phrase any mom dreads, "I have something for you if your mama says it's okay."

What??? Admittedly, my mama-radar raised to level orange. "We're in a public place," I think to myself, "he can't really do anything."

The older man goes on to pull a little Packer's airplane toy out of his pocket and hands it to John Ross. It pulls back and rolls foward and at some point had light and sound capabilities that long ago lost their battery power.

He then turns to me and says in a gruff voice, "I'm single and I eat out a lot. There is nothing harder to tolerate than a bunch of little kids screaming and yelling and running around. So, when I am out and about I pick up little toys and things to give to kids I seeing behaving in restaurants."

Then he walks away. I proceded to explain to John Ross that he had gotten the toy because he had been so polite and quiet and that man was able to eat his breakfast pleasantly.

I'm not sure how I felt about the older gentleman's fairly crumudgeon intentions because his intolerance is a bit unfriendly to families, but it was a wonderful enforcement of the public behavior lessons we've been working on. Some things seem to be so much more effective coming from a stranger.

Moreover, I can't tell you how affirmed I was as a parent. What a blessing it was for someone of that generation to compliment the result of my parenting efforts instead of criticize. That man did more than he'll probably ever realize and for that I am grateful God sent him to us.

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