Recently, our family went to a favorite casual restaurant for dinner. During the meal, I was less than pleased with my kids' behavior. "Use your quiet voice." "Turn around and sit down." "Stay in your seat." "It's time to eat now, stop playing I Spy."
As we were finishing our meal, a woman who had been sitting near us approached us. She said to me, "I just wanted to let you know that your kids were very well-behaved, especially for how young they are. I've seen a lot of kids, and yours did very well. You're doing a great job."
I've had strangers compliment me on my kids' behavior occasionally before, and generally it gives me warm fuzzies. But usually it's on days when they actually have been behaving well.
This one caught me off guard, because I didn't think their behavior was good during that time. It made me wonder:
-- Are some other kids really so out-of-control that my kids' behavior looked good?
-- Did the woman merely appreciate that I was trying to get my kids to behave, rather than laughing it off or ignoring it?
-- Did she see how frazzled I looked and offer the compliment as a pick-me-up from a been-there-done-that mom to one who's doing it now?
I don't know. I still don't know what to make of it. On one hand, I appreciate someone thinking I'm doing a good job with my kids. On the other, I know there's a lot of room for improvement. I don't want to exempt them my kids from proper behavior simply because they're young. I don't want to make excuses for them being tired or hungry. I want them to be polite and courteous and act appropriately for the situations they're in.
And yes, I'm thankful for the day-brightening brought by strangers who compliment my parenting, as well as for those who keep their voices low so I don't hear when they complain about my children's misbehavior.
This job of "mom" is not an easy one. That I know for sure.