Several weeks ago, Chad and I were traveling in Texas. In between meetings, we stepped out to grab a quick bite to eat. Since we were in Texas and since I could eat mexican food three meals a day, seven days a week, we popped into a local place that had a nice patio and a big menu. About halfway through the meal, a dad and two girls walked in and took a seat a few tables away from us.
Having been away from our girls for a few days, my heart ached a bit as I saw their sweet little legs climb into their seats. And I thought to myself: “How nice. This dad is having a little daddy/daughter time.” And then, I watched as something unexpected happened. Each girl dug, from their backpack, an iPad and headphones and the dad, himself, reached into his laptop case and pulled out a laptop. The girls put their headphones on and got busy watching a movie. The dad, in between ordering, got busy answering emails and working. I thought perhaps when their food came, they’d put them away, but to my surprise they didn’t. They just ate and watched.
Now, let me be the first to say that I did not judge this man. In a moment when I need peace and quiet, the iPad is my very, very, very best friend. But as I watched this dad and his girls, something in my heart sank. I wanted to scream across the patio: “You’re missing it! They’ll be gone soon, and all you’ll be left with is your laptop!”
But I couldn’t. I didn’t.
And then something else happened. I started racing through all of the times over the previous weeks I had blown my girls off … popped in a movie to keep them quiet … stopped by McDonald’s so I could get some work done at the office while they ate … caved in and let them watch one more Wonder Pets so I could do the dishes.
Why is it so difficult at times to just BE with our kids? What on earth could be more important than listening to Morgan recount her day or Macy tell me about her stuffed monkey? And what on earth could that Dad have been working on that couldn’t wait until after dinner? What is wrong with us?
Fighting my inner urge to go have a heart to heart conversation with a stranger in the middle of a mexican restaurant, I talked Chad into doing something a little more sneaky. On the way out of the restaurant, we paid for the family’s dinner. Now you may be thinking: “Why on earth would you do that?” To be honest, I’m not really sure why we did it other than it felt like the right thing to do.
We asked the waiter to give the man a note. And on the note, we simply wrote. “Be there for your girls. They need you to be there.”
I pray that father feels God’s love and is able to recognize the role he plays in the lives of those sweet girls.
Selfishly, I am grateful I was there that day. It was a little wake up call for me. Here’s a pic of Macy and I at breakfast this morning. She needs me to be there. So, aside from taking this quick pic, my phone and iPad were in my purse and we had a delightful conversation about escalators and elevators.
Best hour of my week.
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