As the mother of a two year old boy, I am constantly worried about how he behaves in public. Why? Because before I was a mother, I remember finding myself annoyed by other people's kids. Not all kids of course....just the wild ones! Even now, I still get frustrated by how other parents let their children behave in public. ESPECIALLY now that I'm a mom and know what kind of behavior is acceptable for toddlers/preschoolers.
I spend a lot of time working with my son on manners and teaching him what is acceptable behavior in public. Does he always act like a perfect angel? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Have I carried him out of stores and restaurants kicking and screaming before? ABSOLUTELY! And when that happens, you better believe people are staring at us like they've never seen a screaming two year old before (yea right!). To my credit, at least I have the decency to remove my son from the store or restaurant instead of staying and ruining everyone else's experience. This has happened more times than I can remember. (Yes, he is a TWO year old boy!)
But there have also been countless times, he has behaved like an angel. He has said, "excuse me" in the grocery store when we walked past another shopper. He has sat in a restaurant for up to an hour before without screaming or crying. He's said please and thank you and smiled at people when they walked by. Do these behaviors get noticed by other people? Hopefully! But I can count on one hand how many times strangers have actually complimented my son on his good behavior. Hmm. He gets attention from people when he screams and throws fits but no attention when he uses his manners and sits nicely at restaurants. Does that make sense? When people stare at him and shake their heads because he is acting like a caveman, I pretty much feel like the worst mom in the world! I start sweating and getting flustered. Usually, I get more upset over his behavior than others, probably because I expect a lot from him. But WOW, the few times people took the time to compliment him (or me), I couldn't stop beaming. I was the proudest, most wonderful mother to ever walk this earth.
I was thinking about that this morning. I had about 30 minutes to kill before I had to pick up my son from preschool so I decided to pop into a little cafe. As I was sipping my coffee and reading my Kindle (my life is awesome, isn't it?), a hostess walked in with a woman and three children. The kids looked to be about 2, 4, and 6. I thought to myself, "Oh man! My last few minutes of peace without A and now I'll have to deal with this??!" ( I know, I am a total hypocrite as a mother...) To my pleasant surprise, I barely knew the kids were there. I continued reading my book in peace and before I knew it, it was time to get to my son's school. I ALMOST walked out of the cafe without saying anything but something possessed me to walk over to the table. Before I could stop myself, I said," Ma'am?" She looked up at me, confused. She was probably thinking, " why is this strange psycho woman talking to me?". I continued, "Your children were VERY well behaved!" She beamed at me and said, "Oh my gosh! Are you kidding? I am a complete stress ball right now!" I was shocked. The kids had been quietly sitting, eating, and coloring the whole time. So I said, "Well, they were really good. I'm impressed!".
That was that. I really hope I made this woman's day. I also hope the kids got complimented and rewarded for the way they acted in that cafe.
I am not writing this in my blog so I can brag about how awesome I am for complimenting someone else's children. (Although I am pretty awesome...) Actually, I'm writing this so that more us think to start doing things like this. How often do we complain about how terrible kids are? Just for once, why don't we try to focus on the positive and compliment some parents on the job they are doing? I guarantee if they don't think you're a wacko, you'll probably make someone's day!