This weekend provided to be very busy. I aimed my goals towards finishing the router table top, and with rain in the forecast, it would be a good weekend to tackle this project. However, things needed to be completed first. I needed to tear down many boxes in the shop which were becoming obstacles to productivity, and then take them to the recycling center. With a baby on the way, my wife is in her nesting stage and needed shelves hung, but I was out of wall anchors. And ever important, I needed to spend some time with my little boy who’s almost three.
So it’s Saturday about 10:00AM and the sprinkles are lightly falling. I take five broken-down boxes to the car while my boy takes one “BIG” box. I take another five boxes and he tries to take three. His little hands can’t handle that many so two of the boxes fall behind. I get them later. We finally head out to the recycling center and it begins to poor. After we arrive, he of course wants to get out of the car and help unload. I didn’t have a problem with that because the genius in me put him in a rain jacket before we left but forgot to wear one myself.
The bin is too tall for him to really help so he becomes easily distracted and jumps into puddles while I finished discarding boxes. After I was done, I had fun with him when I stomped in one puddle to splash him. I would’ve stayed longer but I didn’t have a coat and was getting wet from the rain. It’s kind of ironic that I could jump into a puddle but left because it was raining.
Our last destination was Home Depot. It is very difficult to have a toddler while shopping at a store I like. He likes to grab everything in site. First it was the individual bolts. Then the screw packages and of course hammers. He’ll grab everything that can either get lodged in his mouth, fall on his foot, or change the color of him and the floor beneath him. Sometimes he doesn’t put things back where he found them. So, if you’re ever at a hardware store and a five inch lag bolt is in the wrong bin, you can thank me. All of these actions require a reprimand from me by mostly repeating the word “No!” five hundred gazillion times.
We arrive in the tool aisle and I see a roll of rubber padding (to grip wood while routing) that I’ve been wanting. I pick it up and ask him if he’ll help me carry it. Of course he will because he loves helping Dad and then he can have something to hit me with too. We begin walking out of the tool section and he whacks me with the mat. He didn’t hit me hard of course but I’m not going to let him slide on this one so I gave him a choice, “You hit me with that again, I’ll take it away.” I say this with little regard to those around me.
We turn the corner and he decides to make the wrong choice. He hits me again. I grab the mat out of his hand and reminded him about our deal. He whines and moans for a few seconds as we begin walking again. A woman, who was probably 20 years my junior, walks up beside me and compliments me by saying, “I had to laugh back there watching you with him, good follow-through Dad!”
She didn’t look at me when she said it but she said it in such a way that she was trying not to embarrass my boy. She was completely polite about it. She was very subtle. She had a proud grin on her face. I responded, “Thank you.”
I still don’t know why that compliment meant so much to me. I have no idea who she was—just a nice stranger. I don’t expect compliments from people. I usually don’t take compliments well as I am reserved and don’t think much about the compliment itself. I don’t seek compliments either but for some reason, the way she said it made me melt. Out of all the time that I spent with my son on Saturday, it was her compliment about discipline that made me feel like a good Daddy. It wasn’t even playing in the puddles with him or letting him carry the rubber mat.
That woman, although she probably doesn’t know it, made my day. Every time I use that rubber mat I will think about that moment. It will remind me to be a good Dad.
I’ve concluded that our society doesn’t do enough to compliment people about how well they are disciplining their children. We either criticize how bad their kids behave or we criticize discipline in general. The next time I see someone positively correcting their children, I will feel motivated to tell them that they are doing a good job because as a parent, it doesn’t feel good to discipline in itself. It’s something we have to do. It’s more rewarding when it feels like we’re doing it right.
-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!