Dear young dad,
I wasn’t eavesdropping. It was just hard NOT to hear you and your daughter sitting at the table right behind me last night at dinner. Even as my husband and I conversed, I heard you order.
Mini nachos and a taco, please. And a chicken chimichanga.
I smiled when, mere minutes later, your daughter asked, “when is our food coming?” Hungry, was she? You and I both know how efficiently-run the restaurant is—and that food comes quickly—so it didn’t surprise me to hear you chuckle in response.
But I love that you chuckled!
It seems many parents of young children are just angry and self-absorbed these days and don’t speak to their children with kindness. Their children deserve better. Fortunately, your daughter is one of the lucky ones. What is she, about 6 or 7?
You told her it wouldn’t be long and that she just needed to be a little patient.
But the teaching didn’t end there.
I heard you explain why it’s important (and polite) to sit up straight. How it “trains the spine” to grow properly.
I heard how it’s okay to rest forearms on the table in public—but not okay to sit with elbows on the table.
There was a lot of your conversation I didn’t actually hear, and yet even in those moments of softer words, I heard you LOUD AND CLEAR.
Your gentle, teaching, conversant tone spoke volumes.
My daughter is a person to be respected.
Time alone with my daughter is to be enjoyed and used wisely.
The person sitting across from me is more important than texting, talking on the phone, or watching the restaurant television.
Through your voice, your words, your tone, I got an image of you in my mind. When we finished our meal and got up to leave, I finally got a glimpse of you.
You weren’t at all what I expected.
I thought you were a young, short-haired, clean-shaven dad wearing a pair of dark blue jeans and a white button-down shirt who’d spent the day behind a desk or working deals on the phone. You weren’t.
You were a young-ish, needing-a-haircut-and-a-shave dad wearing oft-washed jeans and a colored t-shirt. You’d probably worked all day doing some type of manual labor.
And there you sat pleasantly laughing with your young daughter as if she were the only one in the world who mattered at the moment.
And you were right.
I couldn’t have been more proud of you! I almost told you in person, but I didn’t want to interrupt your meal. But I was really, reeaally impressed—because I know it’s not always easy to give 100% of yourself to a child—to “live in the moment”.
I remember making the intentional choice to be that parent when my daughters were young, to put everything else aside to focus on time with them. I also remember with regret the too-many times I didn’t.
Oh, I suspect you’re not a perfect parent either. That individual really doesn’t exist. I suspect you have times you’re short-tempered with your daughter or distracted by something else. Every parent does.
But last night, Dad, on a Thursday evening in the middle of small-town America …
You nailed it!
And it was a pleasure to hear!
Have you ever been impressed (or depressed) by an overheard parent-child conversation? Leave a comment and share!
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