Yesterday we were at lunch at Chick-fil-A. Baby Gray ate his meal then went to play. He kept running in and out to tell me things, but he wasn’t being loud, obnoxious, or a problem. It was Chick-fil-A in the middle of the day.
One trip out, though, I saw an older woman eating lunch alone give him a look. I couldn’t pinpoint the meaning of the look, but it was noticeable, and it was for him. About that time, another couple told me how cute he was, so I shook it off. He went back to play, and I watched from our table.
Next thing I knew, the woman was violating my personal space (she was seriously almost in my lap) with an AT&T bill pay envelope.
“I hope I’m not interfering,” she said, “but I thought this might come in handy for you this time of year. It worked wonders for my girls when they were young.”
Choking on my drink, I took a deep breath to go into how that’s not how we approach Santa in our home or how this was Chick-fil-A at lunch and I wasn’t sure how she had even gotten the notion that he was creating a problem worthy of calling Santa. What came out surprised me, “Thank you; I’ll keep that in mind,” it was weak, and uninspired, but it came out of my mouth.
What? What just happened? As she walked off, I wanted to go after her–to defend my son. Instead, I sat and prayed. I prayed I would continue to see him as a little boy enjoying himself. I prayed she would see children as a joy as well. I prayed I wouldn’t see her remarks as a dig at my parenting.
I won’t lie and say her comments didn’t change my thoughts about Baby Gray’s behavior briefly. I had to consciously shake what she said from my brain–he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Matter of fact, once we left, I strapped Baby Gray in, got in the car, and laid my head on the steering wheel to pray again.
“What are you doing, Mama?” an ice cream covered face wondered from the backseat. I told him I was praying for forgiveness for someone who hurt my feelings. He was quick to want to jump to his mama’s defense–sweet boy.
In those moments, I felt defeated. I know she said it trying to be helpful. She didn’t mean to be a mean grouchy old lady. She didn’t mean to attack me as a parent and my discipline techniques (or lack there of, apparently). I also know she very well may have thought my son was four or five, rather than three–happens all the time. I tried to take all that to heart. It didn’t help much.
We won’t be calling Santa. We will continue to go to Chick-fil-A as our lunch spot. I will speak life to other moms. I hope I never cause them to feel defeated while they’re spending time with their children. I know I will be approached again by someone somewhere with remarks about my child’s behavior; this wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. I won’t let it get to my heart.