Most days, after picking Salvador up from school, the three of us get a snack together. Sometimes we get hot dogs from the deli across the street, or even candy if I’m feeling indulgent that day, but the pizzeria on the corner is our usual spot. Yesterday, we paid it a visit.
Salvador usually gets pepperoni, but he also likes to peer through the glass, point out one that he thinks looks cool, and say, “That one. With the…stuff on it.” Today, fortunately, that stuff was sausage. Yoshi had his usual plain slice, which he consumed by slapping it against his face until it disappeared. At least, that’s what his chin and cheeks looked like afterward.
Now, this particular pizzeria has two primary means of egress: the main entrance onto the street, and a side door that opens onto a little outside patio eating area. This patio is quite large — it’s another whole lot, I think — and it’s fenced off, but there’s an opening onto the sidewalk. So, if you wanted, you could enter through the front door, eat your food on the patio, and then exit through gate without having to go back inside. Picture this, because it becomes important later.
And so, the three of us sat inside, enjoying our pizza and discussing the plan for the evening, which included a stop for donuts on the way home, followed by homework and my famous homemade Buffalo wings.
Meanwhile, two children who appeared to be brothers, about the same ages as Salvador and Yoshi, were chasing each other through the pizzeria. They would go out through the side door, exit the patio, and run back in the front entrance, then repeat the whole route in a circle. I didn’t notice it at first, but after a few times seeing the same two faces over and over, it got my attention. Then I observed that they were both SCREAMING as they gave chase and that the other one was on a scooter.
Again, take a moment to picture that scene. Two kids, both screaming, the older one running while the younger gave chase on a scooter. What you are picturing should not exactly be a pleasant dining experience.
Soon, a woman at a nearby table had had enough, and when the two kids began a new orbit by going out the side door, she shut the door behind them. The little one came through on his scooter, confronted the closed door and looked confused. The manager behind the counter — who I think is actually the owner — said to him, “Don’t go in and out like that.”
The chasing game stopped after that, and I didn’t see the two brothers anymore.
The woman began griping to the manager/owner. “I love children,” she said, “but I just can’t handle the shrieking. What are the parents doing? Why can’t they just sit at the table calmly? It’s a restaurant, not a playground.”
She went on and on, at times bordering on incessant, although I can’t say she was necessarily wrong. But as she was saying these things, I looked up and took notice of what Salvador and Yoshi were doing. It was then I realized that they were perfect.
They were sitting quietly and calmly, eating their pizza, just like you would want them to. It was stunning how much their behavior resembled the ideal that the woman had just described. I half expected her to acknowledge them and say, “…like how those boys over there are acting.”
She didn’t, but still my heart swelled with a pride a little in that moment. Even though Yoshi and Salvador aren’t my sons, I still consider them my boys, and there they were, being perfect little young men. I couldn’t help but smile at how great that felt. I was proud of them, and although that may seem like a simple thing to be proud of, it was nonetheless important.
When was the last time you felt one of those little twinges of pride in your child(ren)?
(Image credit: LawPrieR’s flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.