If you’re anything like me, you don’t scan the restaurant, looking for familiar faces, or seek to go glad-handing when you go out to dinner.
I would much rather head straight to our table and peruse the menu. Because, dinner. Dinner out!
When I do happen to see someone I know, I might wave, but I certainly don’t feel the urge to go over to say, “Hello,” or carry on a conversation right in the path of the waitstaff. Just not my style.
(All that goes out the window, though, if I spot my best friend, or one of the Bunco Babes! For them, I’m absolutely interrupting their dinner and giving them a serious HUG!)
This Was Not That
A few days ago, my husband, Lance, and I went to a Mexican restaurant in the next town over, for dinner. It’s a quiet place, with good service, great food, and a certain amount of anonymity. (We don’t really know anyone in that town, except the gal who does my hair.)
Lance had a long day, and we just were looking for a good dinner and a little rest.
Two tables away, I could see a young mother with a baby and a toddler. She, too, looked like she had had a long day. So did her husband. They just wanted to eat their meal in peace, but from the looks of things, that was not going to happen.
I Couldn't Help But Notice
I overheard bits and pieces of the conversation, and I just wanted to go hug her, and tell her it would be all right… that this was just a season she’s going through.
Mom took her writhing toddler outside for a while. He was a handful. Dad kept the baby, and he was able to eat. For a little while, anyway.
When Mom eventually came back in, with her little boy, I reached out and asked her if he would come to strangers. I offered to watch him for a while, just so she could eat her dinner. You know… maybe chew and swallow. And we were in plain sight.
She politely declined. Said he might just be too shy with strangers. I understood. And, goodness, she didn’t know me from Adam!
Dad took the older son for a while, and she took the baby. Baby was quiet enough that mom could eat. Some. When I caught her son’s eye I tried to play peek-a-boo for a few moments. I felt so sorry that they couldn’t even finish their dinner.
The waitress gave them some boxes to take home the food that they barely got to touch. Dad took the children out. Then Mom went about the task of scraping the dinner into the boxes. She asked for one more box, please.
It was kind of sad. Mom even silently stacked the dishes and cups. Clearly she felt bad, leaving in the middle of dinner.
Balancing her teetering stack of to-go containers, she went up to pay. At the register they asked if she wanted a bag to help her carry it all. YES, please. Bless her heart.
I was lost in conversation with Lance, when I felt someone touch my arm. It startled me to see the Mom. She came over to give my arm a squeeze and said that it really touched her heart that we offered to help.
Wow, that was nice of her! I was just glad she wasn’t offended by some stranger asking to watch her kid, so I squeezed her hand. Nice.
Well, WE Got To Eat
Our dinner arrived. So good. Fish tacos for me, and a chorizo burrito for Lance. YUM!
It had been quite a while since we’d eaten there, so we were pleasantly surprised when the waiter brought us those delicious little treats at the end of our meal. You know… two light and crispy tortilla chips with honey, strawberry sauce, and whipped cream. Not too heavy. Just perfect.
Then We Waited
After an uncomfortably long time, we finally went up to the register, to ask for our check, since they hadn’t brought it out, yet.
A man came to the counter. He told us that our bill had already been paid. That young couple, who didn’t even get to finish their own meal in the restaurant, paid for our meal!
We don’t even know who they are. God certainly does. I hope He tells them what a lovely gesture that was. She really touched my heart!
This young couple, who simply went home, rather than disturb other patrons in the restaurant, were TRYING. They even traded the children back and forth to each other. Their fussy-ish toddler wasn’t being awful. Mom and Dad tried to have a meal, in a restaurant, with their two young children.
Here’s what they were NOT doing:
Scrolling through their phones
Sharing what their food looked like with their friends on social media
Handing their cell phone over to babysit their son
Ignoring their children
Yelling at each other, or their kids
They simply assessed the situation and decided to bow out. With grace. With grace and a bag FULL of dinner boxes.
I’m glad our paths crossed, Young Mom. Thank you!