28 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: Understanding strangers

Today, I had to sit in a cafeteria with my 3 youngest children while waiting for my oldest daughter. I knew ahead of time I would be there about an hour so I brought activities for the little ones and some money to buy them each a chocolate milk. Unfortunately, my almost 2-year old decided that he was just not going to do anything that I had brought with me. First, he picked up the little plastic menu holder thing that they put on the tables. I figured there was no harm in that so I let him hold it. He proceeded to take the paper out so I took the paper and let him play with the plastic thing. Two seconds later, I heard it snap. He had split the thing into two pieces. I managed to somewhat put it back together and immediately put it where he could not get it. He cried for 10 minutes until I bought the chocolate milks. At this point, he took a small sip of the milk and then screamed because I would not let him hold it by himself. He was welcome to hold it with me, but because I do not desire chocolate milk stains on his clothing, I had to hold it too. He did not like this and made it well known. He proceeded to cry and scream for 20 minutes as he tried over and over again to get me to let him hold it by himself. I felt terrible for those who were trying to enjoy their breakfast, but I had entered into a power struggle with him and knew that if I let him win at this point, it would set a precedent for the next time he wanted something he was not ready for. Fortunately, most of these people were very understanding and as they passed they gave me an understanding smile. No one stopped to say anything negative or rude, but the ones that touched me the most were the ones who stopped and tried to help. One lady brought over paper and a pencil in attempt to divert his attention. It did not work, but I appreciate the effort. Another lady came over and told me that she had raised 3 of her own and remembered these days. She told me most of the people there were parents and understood what this was like. I know I how react when someone else's child is screaming near me, I generally tune it out (unless it is a scream that warrants my help) and give the mom one of those understanding smiles. However, when you are in that situation, it is difficult to remember that most people are understanding of this and generally are sympathetic more than they are annoyed. I am so thankful for this lady for reminding me of this simple fact and for the others who were so understanding of my situation today.

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