In a marked contrast to Lazy Mom with Little Hellion, a father walked into a restaurant today carrying a toddler and holding the hand of a slightly older child. He walked over to a table and sat down. The toddler teetered about his chair while his older child sat across from him, wobbling on the chair. Dad and progeny sat there and had some food and drink. He read a book to them and at one point took them both to the toilette. When they got ready to leave, the older boy headed for the door. The father called his name and told him to wait. The little boy wandered back over to stand by dad. As the three headed out the door the father said they were headed over to a local playground.
A few noticeable things about this scene. First, dad left the stroller outside. That’s right mommies out there. He left his posh stroller outside on the sidewalk. He didn’t rearrange the entire restaurant so that he could shove his double-wide stroller and ass between the tables and chairs and park some Winnebago-sized pram next to his table. No. He was considerate enough to leave the damned thing outside. He brought in with him his two children and a small bag that seemed to have a bottle and some diapers in it (again, not an overnight bag into which he had crammed supplies for a trek across the Yukon Territory).
Second, he kept his kids by his side! He didn’t let them terrorize other customers. He didn’t offhandedly bark at them to stop doing something while talking to his friend. No. He paid attention to them. He actually read to them. He talked to them. He bounced one on his knee. And let’s recall that he had two kids, a perfectly ambulatory little boy of ca. 4 and a toddler. Somehow he was able to keep them under control.
Finally, when he did have to say something to one of his kids, he made clear both what he expected the kid to do (or not to do) and conveyed to his child the importance of minding. Amazingly, the child paid attention and did what he was told to do. No yelling. No nagging. No threats. Just a clearly stated command.
I don’t think this father was Superman or anything. But it doesn’t take Superman or an army of nannies to keep kids in line. He was simply engaged and clear about his expectations. And his expectations were socially responsible. He didn’t assume that the rest of the world would adore his offspring or had any obligation to put up with them. He and his kids seemed to enjoy themselves while there and walked out excited to go to the playground.
Maybe he could lead a parenting workshop for Lazy Mom and parents like her.