Thursday, March 20, 2008

The greatest compliment

When my kids are screaming and crying in public, I can look around and see the faces of bystanders and know exactly what they're thinking. They don't need to say a word, I know, my kids are acting out and causing a scene. But when my kids are really well-behaved, it often means they are dropped off the radar and no one reacts to them. However, last night I was complimented on their good behavior -- twice.

As a woman, you may be complimented on a variety of things, "Nice shoes," "I love your hair," "Where did you get that bag?" all of these serve to make her feel good. But honestly, as good as I feel when I'm complimented on something like that, I swell with pride when I get a compliment about Sophia and Ryan. And nothing feels better than that.

Last night, my husband got done work early and met me at daycare to help pick up the kids and go out to dinner. It was a bold suggestion to go out at the end of the day because the odds that the kids would be tired and cranky were infinitely greater. Plus, it was high dinner time (between 5 and 6 p.m.) and usually when we go out to dinner we try to go early -- like 4 p.m. early -- because most restaurants are not busy then and if the kids are bad there are fewer diners to bother. But we really need to go food shopping and I didn't feel like scraping together leftovers for dinner so we went out anyway.

When we got to the restaurant, the hostess seated us at a table … in the center of the room. All eyes were on us as we settled into our seats. We were surrounded by couples who were expecting the worst, I could tell even the waiter was anxious about us. Right away he asked if we wanted drinks, so we ordered Sophia's meal with our drinks and asked him not to wait to bring it out with our meals. So applesauce and macaroni and cheese arrived promptly. It was fast enough that she didn't have time to get bored with coloring the kids' menu. Ryan sat in a highchair and I fed him his dinner while we waited for our meals.

Dinner went smoother than we could ever have imagined. Sophia was pleasant and didn't yell or scream to get out of the booster seat and Ryan didn't cry once. Midway through our meal, the couple sitting next to us got up to leave and the man came to our table and said we had beautiful children. "Your children are beautiful," he said. "Excuse me if I was staring, I can't believe how beautiful they are." OK, I'll admit it was a little creepy, but if they were screaming and crying, they most certainly wouldn't be beautiful. Besides, he is right, they are adorable.

An older couple was then seated at the newly empty table. As we were finishing our dinner and packing the leftovers, the gentleman looked at us and said, "Your children are so well-behaved."

You can't believe how proud -- and anxious -- I was at that very moment. With two compliments under our belt and an hour in the restaurant, I thought it was best to get out while we were ahead. The tide of good behavior can change quickly and I didn't want to risk the meltdown I was sure would happen if we stayed a minute longer.

We left without incident. After we put the kids in the car, my husband high-fived me. Yup, we rule, our kids were awesome and we couldn't have been happier.


Dawn said...

I so know what you're talking about.

All the other things we can receive compliments for...our looks, our clothes, our good cooking...ultimately, they're fleeting and material, and while they're not pointless they're not as meaningful as having someone notice the manners and values you've taught your children.

Good work, Mom! I know it feels wonderful!