I have no illusions of winning the Mother of the Year award, and often say out loud, “Well, there goes the tiara.”
But under my gaffes and really, really stupid ideas, I truly believe that I am a good Mom. When I spend time with my son, I am there. Present and engaged.
Yesterday I was present and engaged with my son, my husband and my mother-in-law at a local restaurant.
The little was tired, hungry and not and his best behavior. Twice we had to tell him to turn around and face the table; that it was rude to look over the back of the booth at other diners. He was squirmy and a bit whiny, but we did our best to make sure he didn’t interfere with other diners, or make his own experience more frustrating than it already was.
Behind us was a man with his own two boys. One about 4, the other about 7. Throughout our time there, not once did this man put down his phone,
To be fair, he was clearly a doctor, returning phone calls, ordering labs, and conversing with his staff. While this does make his calls more important than the average in-public phone chatterer, it made me feel bad for his boys.
Not once did he engage with them, or even reprimand the smaller one as he perched his arms on the back of the seat and looked over my mother-in-law’s shoulder.
The boys were almost completely silent as well, not even conversing with each other. They finished their meals, wiggled restlessly until the waitress removed their plates.
While waiting for their ice cream, the older boy just leaned his head against the window, watching the traffic outside, while the younger one returned to staring at us while we ate.
When he got tired of that, he resumed the restless wiggle, but it was cut short when he flipped a spoon off the table to clatter onto the floor. The father pointed one finger at the boy, who slumped down in his seat and stayed that way until his ice cream arrived.
When the ice cream was gone, the father snapped his phone closed and stood, motioning for the boys to do the same. The younger one was missing a shoe.
In an impatient voice, the man told his son to get his shoe. The boy had barely had time to duck his head under the table before the father pronounced that they didn’t have time for that and made the boy leave without his shoe.
The men at the adjacent table and my husband watched this display, a bit stunned. As the boy with one shoe hurried to catch up with his father, my husband and one of the other men got up to do a search for the missing shoe.
No one found it, so I suspect the boy had come in to the restaurant without it. Which is, in itself, a statement to the level of attention being paid to the boys.
How do you not take the time to look at your kids as you are getting them out of a car and into a restaurant? How do you not notice that one is without a shoe? And how do you not give him time to even properly look for it when you do discover it?
I felt so, so sorry for the boys. A day out with Dad, and it was no more than being towed around from place to place. There was no displays of affection, not real attention. They were treated with the same level of emotion as one would treat two pieces of ambulatory luggage.
I recognize that this is an isolated snapshot of their lives, a moment utterly out of context.
But it made me hope that when others see me with my son in those same snapshot moments, that sorrow for my son is not what they take away.