I cannot confirm nor deny that I said something to the effect of “shouldn’t you be fighting 23 people for a Tickle Me Elmo doll at the local Walmart” to another father.
Earlier this year one of his kids made a comment about a player on the other team that horrified me. I was certain this father would say something to his son about why it was wrong but he just smiled and laughed.
And then I realized the man I have known for years now is not the person I thought he was.
In less than five minutes he proved to me that he is nothing like the guy I expected him to be. It is not the first time I have been fooled or misjudged someone, but this one really bothered me
A Sad Teaching Moment
After the kid made this awful comment I looked around to see how many people had heard it and realized only a few had so I held my tongue because I didn’t see the upside in yelling at a teenager who wasn’t mine.
Not because I wanted to brush it off but because I thought it would be taken out of context and that it might lead to a big argument with other parents that would have nothing to do with what the kid had said.
Instead I took my kids aside and repeated the comment this boy made and told them they were not to just smile and laugh at that kind of thing.
They asked me why I was angry when they hadn’t laughed or encouraged this other boy and I told them why I was and explained I was frustrated because I felt like in that situation I had to let it go.
But I also told them Â I had told the other father that I thought I heard his kid say something off color that wasn’t cool.
The net result was a sad teaching moment.
There is a post called Something Deep Inside Of You that I came across in my stats.
I wrote it sometime in 2014 during a moment of great change in my life and hadn’t thought twice about it until it showed up in the stats.
Bells went off inside my head when I read it and thought about what I have done, where I have been and where I am trying to go.
It was almost like Robert Frost climbed into my head and screamed “how many times must it happen before you acknowledge it.”
TheÂ itÂ doesn’t matter to me as much as the reminder that I can’t always do everything in my own time and my own way.
It reminded me that sometimes shit happens and you need to deal with it on the spot.
That is part of why when I ran into the father from the story above today I made a point to listen very carefully to what he said so that if an opportunity presented itself I could say a few things I felt he needed to hear.
One of those was to let him know if I heard his kid act like a little prick again in front of the others I wouldn’t hesitate to call him out in public.
He told me that was a bad idea and I said it an even worse one would be to challenge me on this account because I am not afraid of him or making a scene and I won’t have my kids see me ignore that kind of crap.
When he stood up and told me he was going to make me reconsider I told him to stay seated and walked away.
Not because I was afraid of him but because I was afraid of really losing my temper.
A Double Dose of Humble Pie
It would have been nice if I could have served him a double dose of humble pie and been confident that it was ingested in a painful yet educational manner, but life isn’t a movie.
I don’t claim to be a paragon of virtue or run around saying I am the arbiter of morality and ethics. If you conducted a study of my background you might find some red in my ledger but we all have our lines and limits.
And the kind of father and person I am and want to be won’t accept the shit that guy is shoveling.
It is why I look at that Robert Frost quote and ask myself how many times certain things can happen before I say that coincidence isn’t an explanation for these events.
In spite of what some salesmen might say, I am open to new ideas and opportunities.
Sometimes it is the only way to catch a breath of fresh air.
What Kind Of Man Runs Away?
As I walked away I heard him make a couple of cracks about me and wondered whether turning around would make it better or worse.
Wondered if walking away sent a message of strength and conviction or weakness.
Ultimately I went with my gut because sometimes you know things and you need to follow what you know.
Still there was a moment where I thought about walking back over and dumping him out of his chair so that I could stick a knee in his chest and ask him if he wanted to reconsider the promises he was making.
I guess it really was Black Friday.
Larry November 29, 2015 at 7:49 pm
I’m really wondering what was said.
Either way – it sounds like you were tough in the way you need to be tough, wise in the way you needed to be wise, and firm in the way you needed to be firm.
Nice work dad.
Jack Steiner December 1, 2015 at 8:29 am
What was said was ugly, but the man has said worse before so this time I nipped it in the bud. Sometimes we have to draw lines with people.
Being a dad is filled with all sorts of moments, huh.
Damien Riley November 27, 2015 at 10:08 pm
He who fights and runs away … Materialisticmas brings out the worst in people. It’s important to teach our kids that material things are like sand flowing through our fingers. And they are also pretty shiny and cool under the tree 😉 Somewhere therein lies the truth.
Jack Steiner November 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm
Somewhere therein lies the truth.
I think about that often. The older I get the less black and white I see and the more shades of gray. I am grateful for so much and if I can pass that gratitude and the need to remember it to my kids, well I think we’ll come closer to finding that elusive truth.
Damien Riley November 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm
Yeah, it’s important to teach them the right way. Having said that, didn’t you watch commercials as a kid? Weren’t you excited when you got the toy you had your heart set on? The bike with a banana seat? If your childhood was anything like mine, it involved some materialism. Is it all bad? The trouble is when people don’t talk to their kids. They just buy buy buy and hope the gift will keep the kid busy long enough to leave them alone. Or something like that.
Jack Steiner November 28, 2015 at 8:57 pm
Yeah, I did and I got excited about all the stuff I got for my birthday or Chanukah.
But it is a different world now, I know that makes me sound like an old man, but I think some things have changed.