Should Have Been A-Parent

, , , , | Hopeless | June 26, 2016

(My parents meet my husband and me in a neutral destination for my son’s second birthday. Our relationship has unfortunately always ranged from rocky to non-existent, and this particular visit is going as poorly as expected. My father is driving a rental car, and refuses to stop for food or bathroom breaks all day long. By the time he finally selects a restaurant, it is almost nine pm, we are all exhausted, my two-year-old is at the end of his rope, and I am silently seething. We walk in, grubby in our vacation clothes, and realize my father has deliberately selected the type of restaurant that an overwhelmed, hungry, and tired two-year-old should never, ever enter. The tuxedo-clad maĆ®tre d’ escorts us to the only open section of the building, next to two older couples. I don’t know who groans louder, the two couples, or me and my frustrated husband. As we wait for our food, my husband and I do our best to a) ignore my parents attempts to make our son cry and their pointed criticism of our parenting choices and b) entertain the kiddo very quietly while we c) slink down in our seats further and further as we realize that one of the two couples next to us is on their first date, and thanks to the fact that we have no transportation of our own, we can’t even leave them to eat in peace. Halfway through our dinner, the other two couples finish their meals and get up to leave. The gentleman on his first date excuses himself from his group, steps back over to our table, and taps my husband on the shoulder.)

Diner: “Excuse me, sir,” *I cringe and hold my breath* “I know you can’t help overhearing that I’m on a date here, and I want you to know that I was so upset when you and your child were seated next to us. But I also want you to know that this is the best-behaved child I have EVER seen, and whatever you and your wife are doing, it’s working. Keep doing it!”

(The look on my parent’s face was priceless! And over ten years later, I still tear up when I remember how his words completely changed our evening. I’m pretty sure he was an angel in disguise… Whoever you are, kind stranger, I hope that you went on to have many more amazing dates with your companion!)

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