Thursday, March 27, 2014

Parenting with your child's heart in mind

We went out to supper recently and were blessed to have a wonderful server.  Malia was 21, working her way through college and had a personality as bright as her smile.  Each time she stopped by to check on us, we admired her poise, her friendly manner and the way she took her job seriously.

What a surprise to learn she'd never before worked as a server and was only six months into her job!  As we chatted, Malia told us more about herself, her home life and how her Mom raised her as a single parent.

About the time our food arrived, a young couple with a child about 18 months was seated at the next table over. During our meal that evening, I was pleasantly surprised by that tiny little girl's behavior.  She did exceptionally well and made very little noise compared to what you might expect from a tiny tot.  In fact, she was so subdued and well-behaved that I whispered to hubby, "They must be good parents to have trained her so well."

Turns out, that wasn't the case ...

A bit later, when Malia brought their food to them, she was assisted by a young man who carried a second tray of food.  They were placing food on the table when we heard the little girl's father grumble about something and then finish off loudly, "How stupid can you be!?"  

The berating voice continued, and the volume increased. What must it be like to live with a husband/father like that?  Folks all around us began to turn around and see what was going on.  The young man who had been helping serve food was red-faced and humiliated, but Malia was calm, pleasant and unruffled.  Though quite young and new to the job, she stood there and handled the situation without getting ruffled.

We overheard (as I'm sure other diners did), that the man was upset because the assistant placed a plate on the table too close to their toddler.  Whatever happened, his reaction was rude and definitely "overkill."  Our hearts went out to that young server as he dropped his head and went back to the kitchen.  Malia continued to stand calmly and apologize, then walked away to check on other customers she was serving.  

Each time she passed by that area, the man spoke up again.  His complaint was that something "Wasn't even cooked right and is the worst I've ever eaten!"  Malia offered to start fresh and change their orders, but he refused, using some choice words along the way.  Again, Malia was calm.  It reminded me of how she'd earlier bragged on her Mom for raising her alone and what a good Mom she was during some tough times.  She certainly instilled in her daughter a calm, sweet spirit.

On the other hand, the little girl at that table was extremely quiet and subdued during this escapade.  I no longer mistook it for calm behavior -- she had probably learned at home to avoid her father's temper, and my heart went out to her.  Sadly, before the evening was over, the mother also joined in and began talking rudely to Malia saying, "I don't even like this chicken, and I'm not going to pay for something that wasn't done right."

That's when it hit me ...

Our son had told us when he worked in a restaurant about something similar.  Seems some folks come in with an agenda: They will eat what they want but complain about it at the same time to the server.  If they continue to complain, the restaurant has a policy -- if you aren't pleased, you don't have to pay.  And you guessed it -- it's a scam and a pitiful thing when people go out to eat with complaining in mind.  They've learned how to eat out free -- find something wrong with the meal.
Some even go as far as to put a hair in their food and act shocked when they "find it."

I don't know if that young couple came out to supper with a bad attitude to get a free meal or not.  Either way, it was a rude display of emotion in public and was unnecessary ... and a bad example for a little child to follow.  I left the restaurant with a broken heart for that child and felt angry toward her parents.  The Lord calmed me down and reminded me to pray for them, instead.

A bright ending ...

Thankfully, our evening ended on a good note.  We got to enjoy Malia's sweet service and smile a couple more times after the big "blow-up."  We took the opportunity to tell her she was an amazing young lady and a great server.  My hubby also sought out the restaurant manager and put in a good word for how Malia handled the situation.

What did we learn that evening?  Two girls - one a toddler, raised in an obviously unstable home with two parents who are most likely full of anger and complaints.  The other, a precious young lady named Malia, raised in a loving, stable atmosphere with only one parent that taught her to look on the bright side and to be pleasant and polite, no matter what. 

Parenting by heart (with your child's heart in mind) makes all the difference!

Photo above is not the little girl mentioned in the article.  

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