Did your family eat dinner together when you were growing up?
Pride vs. Embarrassment
While dining out last night, I saw a truly beautiful thing. A family was seated at the table next to ours. They consisted of parents, two little boys and, I’m going to assume, a grandmother. Unlike the children who were seated there before them, these boys were quiet, calm and, though too young to read, looked intently at their menus. It was the type of picture that you couldn’t help, but look at. Most beautiful to me though was the way the father looked at his sons. The one nearest to him was attempting to hold a conversation with his grandmother. While he spoke, the father hung on his every word, looking at his son with joy, pride and awe.
This man reminded me of my father. Though too young to realize it, my father thought the world of me. He would talk to me like an adult, teaching me about politics and life. I thought he was silly then. Now older, I view those talks as valuable. His words and ideas shaped my mind, challenging me to think beyond sandbox gossip. While this may sound overwhelming to you and unthinkable in terms of a young mind, if done in the right way, such topics can be interesting. My parents gave me the right to question things turning me into the analytical person I am today.
With the misbehaving earlier children in mind, I can’t help, but wonder why there was such a contrast between these sets of children. Thinking back to last night, the first children were with two women who were too preoccupied with their conversation to pay attention to their children. Not until the waitress nearly stumbled over one of them did the women tell the children to calm down. As they immediately returned to their conversation, it’s not surprising that the children kept on running. You get what you give I guess.
It is hard to believe that some parents can see their children as gifts and others merely see them as burdens. Yet, with these two families in mind, it is obvious that that is the case. I realize that this was only one meeting between us. No one can be perfect all of the time. Still, they blatantly ignored their children. Misbehavior is common in such situations.
Perhaps I came from an abundantly strict family. Perhaps I would be a calmer, less shy person if I had been allowed to do as I pleased. However, given the choice between having fond memories of my father looking at me with pride or having memories of throwing dishes in restaurants, you know what my choice would be.