The Kindness of Strangers

Twice in my life I’ve been a single parent. This post from Bob and Emily very accurately relates how people will treat you when they observe that you are on your own. They sniff out my crackhead prostitute self with my ankle-biters from hell faster than they can notice a ring missing from my all-important digit. NOT ONCE has anyone “assumed” that I took my kids and left an abusive marriage for the safety of all of us. But… fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke, right?

Except this one time. There was one moment where someone either didn’t assumed or didn’t care about my lifestyle as a welfare-reaping gutter slut. 

It was one of those days where I had to work later than planned and then had to rush around town with tired, hungry children to get errands done in the evening. Truth be told, I was equally as cranky as they were. So, for simplicity sake, I stopped by a diner near our home. We were able to order food, take three different trips to the bathroom (because they never have to pee at the same time), and get through the meal with more or less success. The only real issue was that The Boy was being super squirrely and climbing around the empty booth behind us and sometimes he was louder than most would consider restaurant-appropriate. I smiled apologetically at the tables even though I didn’t really care that they were annoyed. We have just as much right to be here as anyone else I thought to myself. As I finished that thought, the manager of the restaurant approached our table. Well shit… “Excuse me,” he said. “I’m so sorry, we are all just really tired. We’ll get out of here so we don’t bother people.” I quickly interjected. “Actually, he said, as another customer was leaving, they purchased ice cream sundaes for your family. I just came to ask what kind you guys wanted.”

Because I was over tired, and more because I’m a baby, I cried a bit. The kids FINALLY settled down out of shock and confusion. It was so refreshing that somebody wanted to do something nice for us. As we ate our ice cream, the girls kept asking me why someone would just buy us dessert. I decided to use the opportunity to teach them about “paying it forward.” I told them that I really didn’t know, but that we needed to be on the lookout for people who we might be able to help sometime. We finally decided one day that we would buy breakfast for the car behind us in the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. 

The moral of this story is this: when you see a mom who is on her last nerve trying to wrangle unruly children, instead of trying to figure out her relationship status or critiquing her parenting skills, smile and be nice. It will make you stand out in her mind as one in a million and can really turn around a crappy day.