Not Martha

bravo anonymous dad

I came across a story this morning about the miserable time a CNN reporter had after a family with some unruly kids were seated near him in a restaurant. To counter this I’d like to offer the story of what I observed last night in my own grocery store.

I was tired and hungry and after I grabbed a shopping basket the first thing I heard behind me was “Daddy I want to eat this right now!” Oh great, I thought, this family will probably be getting in my way the whole time I’m here (it’s a small store). But instead of the parent telling her no followed by shrieking outrage, a very calm father said “You cannot eat it right now because that’s not what we do. Can you imagine what this place would be like if everybody was eating their food right now? That’s why we buy it here and eat it at home.” “Oh.” the girl replied, and then followed with “Daddy I want that!” He kindly explained to her why they weren’t there to buy that (I think it was cheese) that evening but they’d have it again when it was time to eat that. The girl then said “Daddy! I want apples!” and I could see her leaning over in the seat in her cart reaching for apples. “All right,” the father replied “would you like the sweet ones like Red Delicious or the tart ones that are green? They’re called Granny Smith.”

I had to leave then but getting to observe this exchange of a father engaging his daughter when she was asking for attention instead of fighting against her unstoppable amount of energy made my whole outlook a bit brighter. Bravo, anonymous dad. (And, yes, I’m sure the family is not always that calm.)

· comments [29] · 03-24-2009 · categories:misc ·

29 responses so far ↓

  • 1 joyce // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:03 am

    bravo indeed! i’m definitely adding this to my arsenal of reasoning-with-children-and-avoiding-meltdown tactics. another great one i heard recently was a friend asking her child to share with mine by saying, “do you like it when other people share with you? how do you feel when they don’t share their toys?”

  • 2 Tiffany // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

    That is great. As a nanny, I always try to have a positive outlook, but it doesn’t always happen. How refreshing to see a parent interact with his child in such a positive way. I like how you said he was engaging her. What a great way to describe it, and so little do I think that this occurs. Because as an adult, it’s so easy to just say yes or no to a child. And you’re right, I’m sure not all interactions are like that. Thanks for sharing the story, makes me think about how I can approach my interactions with children.

  • 3 Amy // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Bravo indeed!
    I love to see parents explain things to children rather than to just tell them no and make them confused and upset.

  • 4 Nichole // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Well done, Anonymous Dad! It’s so hard to channel that kind of patience.

  • 5 Uncle Beefy // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Warms the heart. And I’ll take that where I can get it…so thanks, Miss Megan, for sharing!

    (And thanks for the “love” too!)

  • 6 greta // Mar 24, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Well, as a parent I do feel the need to add that this type of interaction depends a lot on the age and personality of the kid… toddlers don’t always have the patience/understanding for that kind of rationalization. But I agree that engaging with the kid at any age does make a huge difference in improving anyone’s shopping/dining experience. And I’m amazed at how often I am complimented for being patient with my 2-year old… of course we all have our bad days and I am no exception, but it’s kind of sad that being patient with our kids is not the norm and is worthy of being commented on.

  • 7 Tina // Mar 24, 2009 at 11:00 am

    “Some parents still have this attitude that their kids are too special to be burdened by discipline. And the rest of us are supposed to put up with their little mutants.”

    Jack Cafferty,
    I feel your pain and I agree with you! I’ve seen way too much of this in restaurants, nice shops, and libraries. If these parents never discipline their children, then the kids have no idea how to behave in any of the situations I’ve just mentioned, because they’re not given any boundaries.

    I applaud the father in the supermarket. When my son was young and I had to take him grocery shopping, I tried to do a quick market run, and let him know when we were almost ready to go. I also gave him a shopping list, so he could look for his own items-it kept him busy.

  • 8 s'mee // Mar 24, 2009 at 11:06 am

    psshhhhht! (did anyone else hear that can of worms opening?)

    Kudos to the lovely parenting skills of anonymous Dad!

    Age and social skills do matter in public settings and children. At a park, let them be monkeys and tear the joint up. At the grocery store, feed them a bit before you go(not a meal, just something so as they are surrounded by food they won’t be as tempted, it works for you, it will work for them), tell them what to expect and have family rules. In a restaurant, know the difference between the play yard at BurgerKing and even a bottom of the barrel place where people are still expected to sit while they eat.

    Practice can make perfect. Parents can train a child at home how to behave in a restaurant or store or a museum.

    Kudos to parents who actually parent.

  • 9 Nadia // Mar 24, 2009 at 11:08 am

    There’s a dad living in my building who is like this with his daughter. I see them around, and he’s always talking with her, explaining things & encouraging introspection. Let’s hope this means the generation that’s staffing the nursing home when I get there is patient & has empathy!

  • 10 Natalie // Mar 24, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I liked the way that dad worded things so his child felt like she had some choice – that seems to work for little ones as well as adults!

    I waited tables for a few years, and never saw children acting like “orangutans on a leash.” There were some very messy kids, but that affected me more than other diners, since I had to clean up after them.

  • 11 pam // Mar 24, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Would love to interact with my boys when they’re that age, whatever age it was. But since there are three of them, I’m not very hopeful. Sigh. But I’m inspired to try! I should probably bookmark this entry. :)

  • 12 boliyou // Mar 24, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Where do you shop? I want to find Anonymous Dad!

  • 13 Seanna Lea // Mar 24, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    That is really cool. This is how I imagine myself being when I’m a parent, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep this idea foremost in my head when that day comes.

  • 14 Dog-Eared // Mar 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Wow that is pretty amazing. What restraint!

  • 15 Marissa // Mar 24, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    My goodness I want the father of my future children (if I procreate) to be just like that!!! People don’t give children enough credit. My parents never told me “Because I said so!” They always explained their reasons, and for that I am eternally grateful. Kids get it, and they appreciate a real response. Not to mention the countless other people who appreciate well behaved children.

  • 16 mia // Mar 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I agree – ‘parenting’ sometimes falls by the wayside. I always want to give an award to the people who DON’T let their kids run amok in public. But on the flip side, I heard a mom the other day explaining something to her toddler, trying to speak loudly so that everyone else could hear – she was quizzing him on renaissance artists or something and he just wanted string cheese. :) I’m all for engaging your kids and giving them attention, but don’t do it to SHOW OFF in front of me, either.

  • 17 mary // Mar 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The Dad is practicing positive discipline found in the book of the same name by Jane Nelson a parenting professional. It is hard work, I am studying the online course right now, but my kid is the one that would be driving that CNN reporter crazy and I needed a solution. This was recommended by a family therapist. Jane Nelsons often speaks in our town and always sells out. The main objective is to parent with kindness and respect. How can you go wrong with that!

  • 18 mb // Mar 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    So, on Sunday, my husband and I were in the grocery store and for the 15 minutes we were in there, a young girl (about 3) screamed at the top of her lungs “I want a drink”, “I’m thirsty”. The mother neither engaged or acknowledged the girl, it was so sad. Wonder what the scenario will look like in about 12 years.

  • 19 Jackie // Mar 24, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Yes, our store is very small. After spending years at other PCCs I truly feel this one has the best and most diverse mix of customers and employees.
    I must say I’m often amazed at how some parents really keep their kinds under control in such a small store. I find that at this location the interaction between our customers and their kids is great and much more mild compared to those on the eastside and other places I’ve worked in past.
    Also, I want to say I’ve been reading your blog for years and was happy to see you shopped at SP when I transfered there.

    -your local PCC employee.

  • 20 Mandi // Mar 25, 2009 at 3:20 am

    It’s always fantastic to see positive, respectful parenting in action. I never understand how hostile parents think they can simultaneously demand respect from their kids, but only demonstrate hateful behavior in return. Exactly how they expect the kids to spontaneously hit on respectful behavior without ever seeing it modeled is beyond me.

  • 21 jenni s-g // Mar 25, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Bravo Anon Dad–like the other posters, I agree that it’s nice to hear about a parent who is parenting with patience, guidance, and firmness. Kudos to him and parents like him!

  • 22 megan // Mar 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Hi Jackie – Thanks! Please do say hello next time I’m in, we’re so glad to have PCC nearby otherwise I’d have to travel far to get my quinoa.

  • 23 sarah // Mar 25, 2009 at 9:40 am

    oh, Anonymous Dad, you give us all hope!

    My mother always had a grocery list. I remember, if my brother or I asked for something that wasn’t on the list, I would be told, “it’s not on the list today.” I think I once asked if we could put it on the list, and was told, “I’m sorry, but we can’t.” And that was that. Could it be just that simple?

  • 24 fillyjonk // Mar 26, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I’ve made it a point in the past (if I can do it without looking too weird or stalkerish) of complimenting parents on their childrens’ good behavior.

    I figure people doing the right thing need a little positive reinforcement once in a while.

    I will say there are certain times I will not go grocery shopping in my town because I just know it’s going to be a nightmare. Even if I wind up having to eat dry cereal and canned pineapple for dinner because that’s all that’s in the house.

  • 25 mandy // Mar 26, 2009 at 10:25 am

    what a testament to the kind of patience i hope to have when i have children of my own. thanks for sharing!

  • 26 candlepick // Mar 27, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    There’s a very nice children’s book (part of a series by Anna Dewdney) called Llama, Llama, Mad at Mama, in which the grocery-shopping mother explains to her decompensating offspring that she sometimes gets tired of errands, too, but that spending time together makes errands more tolerable. Lovely book–and lovely tactic. Check it out.

  • 27 Cynthia // Mar 30, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Love this story. Our daughter is fairly well behaved, but there are little tricks… (some learned the hard way) snacks in your purse, if they are truly hungry, small pad and crayon– so they can make their own grocery list, chatting about what they like to eat, letting them make choices and talking about colors and textures and moving fast-fast-fast… That said, there are off-days and it helps when folks give you a sympathetic nod, rather than a glare, or even talk to the tot, as in, “Are you having a hard time? It’s hard being patient…” We all need a little tenderness.

  • 28 Tim // Apr 4, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    I have been working in a daycare setting for 5 years, and have a 4 year old daughter. It’s nice to see stories like this (I stumbled you.. I fight so many stereotypes on a daily basis. There are good men out there who wish to leave the world a better place than they found it. I am constantly using positive re-enforcement techniques to engage a child’s sense of empathy and self-worth. If only there were more of us in involved in this battle of ‘nickelodeon and disney vs the real world’

  • 29 Kristyn Eagleton // Apr 7, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I was just shopping in the Carters store for my kids and a mom was in there with her 2 or 3 year old. The kid was clearly upset that he was in the stroller and was getting way fussy. The mom was getting super frustrated & snippy because she wanted to shop. She tried to sooth the child with her pepsi. It didn’t work. I just wanted to say, “just leave.” Sometimes you just have to get up and leave and be okay with it. The store, restaurant, ect will always be there. Just a few days ago my husband and I had to leave our favorite brewery because our wee one was getting way fussy. I had a more than half full IPA I had to abandon. But I was ok with it. And re: the father, thats great. I do the same with my kids and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Like last week I gave into the Trix yougurt, gross.

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