My kids and I went grocery shopping today and of course they were out of my favorite drink. Boo!
We came home and were playing outside with chalk as a family, when I saw that the drinks were on sale at Sam's (over 45 minutes away). Well, why not? Let's go.
We jumped in the car and went to Sam's to load up on my drinks. Yum! (My hubby would do anything for me. Goodness, I love that man.)
And then we went to IHOP to eat. Yum again! Last time we went there I couldn't decide what I wanted so I went with the Split Decision Breakfast. Seemed appropriate since I couldn't decide. Well, it's full of carbs and yumminess, so now it's my meal.
They weren't too busy tonight, but there was an older couple sitting at a booth across from us and then a family with 2 young children sitting behind us. This family's children were loud, screamers and one was a runner. We weren't bothered by them and barely noticed and enjoyed our family dinner together.
When we got up to leave the mom and the boy runner passed in front of us at the same time the older lady grabbed my arm. She said how she noticed how well behaved my children were and how much she appreciated it. I kindly said thank you and kept walking.
I know my kids were being extra well behaved (aka Zeke was too busy stuffing his mouth with food to be loud), but I couldn't help but notice that this lady wasn't just paying me a compliment. I could feel the comparison and hear the judgment in her voice of this other family. (Especially since every time one of the children screamed she would say something to her husband. I think I even heard her say something about him taking out his hearing aid.)
I used to love compliments and took pride in my children's behavior. It was one of the greatest things I strived for. But honestly, now I say "let them be little" and I mean it. Because that's what they are. Yes, kids need to learn manners and appropriate behavior, but kids also need to be allowed to act their shoe size. They're just kids and we are just parents.
I would rather spend my time enjoying my kids than trying to control their behavior for other people's approval and opinion.
Kids will be kids. And I was reminded about giving grace and loving others tonight. I think it was cool that these two young parents were out with their kids at IHOP drinking root beer floats and smiling and laughing.
So while I do appreciate a kind compliment, I also think maybe I wasn't the one who needed the grace and encouragement tonight. Let us not be so quick to hand out judgments and glares, but let love and grace quickly flow from our lips for everyone. Yes, even for the mother in the store with the screaming child who "has her hands full." It's stressful enough that your kid is screaming at you, but add on top of that, that you know everyone is looking at you and wondering why you can't control your toddler. I've been there and if you're a parent, you've probably been there too!
Today let us choose love.