To the Older Couple at Chick-fil-A:
I'm not in the habit of speaking poorly of my elders, so I'm actually glad that I didn't have a chance to respond to you. I'm glad that a smile and a nod was all the response you needed. And, I'm so thankful for the lesson you taught my family (even though you didn't mean to).
Today was a typical Saturday with our family. We had a few errands to run (Target, anyone?), a birthday present to buy, and a trip to the library, so we inevitably found ourselves at one of our favorite lunch spots....
You were sitting across from our large family, though I'm afraid I didn't really notice you until you approached us. We were busy cutting up grilled nuggets, opening ketchup, wiping faces, and trying to shove a few bites of salad in between requests for more crackers and fries. You know, lunch with 5 kids!!!
You approached me as you were leaving to tell me what lovely, well-behaved kids we had. Like other times we've had this happen, I immediately beamed at you and thanked you profusely. Who doesn't love to hear about how great her kids are? Then, you continued to tell us about all the times you couldn't even enjoy eating in a restaurant because of the kids running around and climbing all around you. How loud they were. How much they cried. How no one had taught them how to behave in public....
I kept smiling and silently said a prayer of thanksgiving that (for today) those weren't my kids. It could have been. If we had been a little closer to nap time, I'm sure the baby could have started crying. If my 5-year-old hadn't been so busy eating, I'm sure he could have been poking at one of his brothers and then all sorts of chaos could have ensued. We've had those days. We've had times where two kids were crying, one was pouting because he didn't want to eat anything in front of him, another just wanted to go play, and one was determined to climb under the table.
You left with one last comment about teaching kids how to behave in public and as you were walking out to your car, my son leaned over and whispered to me:
"Mommy, those people left their trash on the table. It's a mess."
You had asked me how I got them to behave so well and I didn't have an answer for you. We don't have lessons on behaving in a restaurant. We don't lecture and try not to yell. But, we are trying so hard to teach them to have servants' hearts.
We want them to know that while we love them dearly, it doesn't make them any more important or deserving than anyone else.
That means that they're not better than the person taking our order or helping to clean up at the Chick-fil-A.
It means that we hold doors for the people coming out of a building and for those coming in after us.
It means that we help people pick up things when they drop them.
It means that we collect school supplies for those that can't afford them.
It means that we all clean up the toys (even if we weren't the ones that took them out).
It means that we make meals for our neighbors who are sick.
It means we help people financially whenever we can...
And, in this case, it meant that we help clean up after the people who were complaining about others who don't know how to behave in public.
Today, you helped illustrate a very important lesson for my children. What we do in front of our children speaks much louder than the things that we say to them.
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