An Open Letter to the mom in Barnes & Noble:
I saw you. You and both of your adorable little guys. At least, I assume they were both yours. One called you “mom” and I’m not sure who, besides a mom, would brave the mall on the day after Black Friday with two young men who didn’t look quite old enough to be in school yet! Big crowds and two little ones in tow without another adult along?! Only a mother would be that nuts!
They were adorable. I’m not just talking the mini-sized flannel shirt and little “work boots” on the older boy. Or the adorable curls and blue eyes on the littlest guy. The way they interacted with each other was just too cute for words.
They were SO excited to be at the bookstore. And they were EXTRA excited that they EACH got to take a book home. They were showing each other the “best parts” of their books, pointing excitedly at the Christmas decorations hanging in the store, talking about the “cool sweatshirt” that another customer had on . . . they were having a blast.
Were they loud? Not really. I mean, not for their ages. They were excited and the volume was that of a child who was having a moment he simply did not want to forget. There was so much to see and be excited about – they didn’t want to miss any of it so they were very eager to point it all out to each other. But too loud? Not even close.
Those boys were wonderfully well-behaved – they excused themselves when people needed to get down the aisle they were in, when the youngest dropped his book the oldest stopped and said, “I can get that for you”, the oldest was careful to warn the younger one when he almost stepped in front of a customer . . . all in all, very well-behaved men-in-training.
Then I took a good look at you, mom. And I saw the tight set in your shoulders, the fact that your eyes kept darting to all of the adults within hearing distance of your little men . . . you were just waiting for that one cranky adult to rear his or her ugly head. You were waiting for the first eye roll and sigh, for the first comment along the lines of “It would be so nice if people would teach their children how to behave in public” to be said just loudly enough for you to hear.
And my heart hurt for you. There was nothing about the way those boys were acting that should have angered anyone and certainly nothing for you to be worried about! But the way you kept “reading the room” told me that you had heard unkind things before. You’ve run into people who have nothing kind to say about anyone who isn’t exactly like them. The oldest smiled at me and said, “Mom’s getting me this book!” and showed me his choice – Giraffes Can’t Dance – so I smiled back and said, “That’s a great book.” (It really is – fantastic lesson in that one!) His smile got even bigger and he said, “I know!” Then he turned to you – “Mom! She likes this book too!” I think I’m officially a cool kid with the preschool/early elementary set now. You simply smiled at him and said, “I heard honey. Shall we go pay?” And the little guy piped up, “Then ice cream, right?!” This time it was your smile that grew when you said, “Right.”
I tell you all of this, stranger, to say that it was a joy to watch your two boys even for a moment or two. They were enjoying one another’s company, being very good to each other, and were excited about having a new book to read! I wish I could have told you all of that in the store. I wish I could have encouraged you to simply enjoy the friendly banter and ignore the cranks. I wish I could have told you that you must be doing more than a few things right after what I saw today. Oh! And enjoy the ice cream!
And those cranky people who feel the need to roll their eyes, sigh or make negative comments? Just remember this – some people have to leave their emotional “ick” all over the place in the hopes that other will step in it and become just as cranky as they are. They have to find SOME way to justify their own grumpy attitude! So ignore the grumps, cuddle your boys, and read them those awesome new books you bought for them today. (And one last thing – spoiler: Gerald the Giraffe finds out that he can, indeed, dance after all!)