We are currently in the midst of a 2,000+ mile spring break road trip that will take us from Charlotte, NC to Lake Charles, LA in a wide circle with many stops in between. It's offered a few unique opportunities to ponder life, as the 6 of us tour the southeast in a Mazda 5, crammed in like clowns in a circus car.
The initial drive from Charlotte to Knoxville was about 4 hours. Once there, we met up with my husband's aunt at a Cracker Barrel. She, the waitor, and random customers who just happened to be nearby all repeatedly commented on how well behaved and sweet our children are. With four of them so close in age, we draw a lot of attention. I genuinely appreciated their observing that the children are polite, well mannered, happy, and just good natured in general. Our kids are not "typical" so these heart-felt compliments mean a lot - it's lovely when others enjoy your children as much as you do.
By the time we got to Nashville, that same evening, we'd driven for over 8 hours in severe storms. The same kids who'd received so much praise in Cracker Barrel at lunch were now drawing glares and stares in Jason's Deli at dinner. They weren't being BAD, really, they just couldn't have been still if their lives had depended on it. Sitting in the booth, they might as well have been on those bouncy-balls-with-handles ... you know the ones you sit on and hop like mad? That was them in the booth. People literally got up and moved away from us. I could only shake my head and smile to myself as we encouraged them to exercise self control. Because this, too, is reality.
Approval and praise one hour.
Glares and stares the next.
"What amazing parents you are!"
"Why don't they make those kids behave???"
Aren't we glad we don't live under a performance oriented reality? Aren't we thankful for grace? Oh, the beauty of knowing that my identity is not tied into how I (or my kids) impress others.
Thank You Father. Because of You and Your love, I know better.
(and for the record, we've now made it as far as New Orleans and they are doing A-W-E-S-O-M-E)