You Must Have Your Hands Full

The comments don’t bother me anymore. Those that don’t immediately roll off my back provide laughter on the ride home from Target or Taco Time or whatever public place we’ve brought our kids to.

It’s easy to look back and laugh at the Target checker who asked, “Were you trying to have this many?” as she loaded bags of diapers, wipes, and Gerber jars into our cart.

I doubt any answer I could give her would suffice so I smiled. Of course, the person who asks such a personal and unsolicited question like that one, isn’t looking for an answer as much as she’s providing commentary on the size of our family.

Come to think of it, that remark was made before our fourth child arrived. We’d blow her mind today.

Kim and I give people the benefit of the doubt when we encounter awkward comments about the size of our family.  It’s easy to laugh off comments such as, “I could never handle that many kids” because I still feel that way at times.

Our youngest daughter turned seven yesterday. To celebrate, we went to the movies. The young son of friends joined us while his family was out of town giving us one inquisitive five year old to watch.

I kept the kids off to the side of the line while Kim purchased tickets. “Two adults and five children”, she said this through the glass divider. And then a women behind us let out a loud sigh and said, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.” as she glanced over our children. Maybe she was also planning to see Rio and was concerned our children wouldn’t behave.

But when Kim pulled out her wallet and paid with cash, it was too much for her. “Oh, come on!” she said, loud enough for everyone in line to hear. She panned her head back and forth, glancing again at all five of them.  They were excited to see the movie but not out of control by any means.

We made our way inside the theater where our children sat in their seats for the 96 minute movie. Kai managed to sandwich himself between the folding seats one time. Otherwise, they all behaved well.

And I know this will embarrass Kim but I’m going to write it anyway.

Halfway through the movie, a women had a seizure just outside the entrance our theater. While her frantic husband kneeled next to her, guess who sat on the floor calming their four children and keeping them entertained while medical personnel worked on their mother?

Kim made it back to us to catch the last five minutes of the movie. Not once did I have lean over and quiet any of the children. I expect a certain amount of noise when I watch a movie marketed to children. The two women who sat behind us were by far the loudest distractions in the theater. And when they weren’t chatting they texted like teens until the manager told them to stop.

That night we took our family to dinner at Red Robin. All seven of us.

If the kids were going to get away with anything, this would have been the time. Kim and I were tired, but we decide to sit across from each other instead of corralling them with one of us at each end of the table. The kids downed pizza and macaroni and cheese while Kim and I wondered what happened to the mother of those four children.

Our server brought the check. The kids grabbed their jackets. I retrieve a handful of crayons off the ground that contributed to the pre-meal artwork.

As I reached for my jacket, I felt a hand pat my shoulder and looked up to see a man and a woman looking at me. My first instinct was, “Oh no, were we too loud?” Or maybe Kai threw a french fry that landed in their food.

Before I could say anything, the man said, “I’ve been watching your family, and I want to tell you how impressed am with your children. They are well disciplined and I wanted to tell you that before we leave.”

He had no idea what we’d heard earlier that day. Or that our plans to see a movie together took an unexpected turn. Kim and I sat at the table for a few more minutes. We were stunned.

I don’t know what this man saw in our children that encouraged him to approach our table.

He couldn’t have known his kind words were what we needed to hear after a challenging day.

Comments

  1. Brett, If I could be so bold as to say I know exactly what that man saw. After listening to your son share his testimony yesterday at church I know exactly what it is. It’s the light of Christ that your children exhibit. All kids have their moments but I firmly believe those raised in a home centered around Christ show Christ’s countenance in themselves and others are affected by that in a positive way. Really touching post. Also, Kim’s Christ-like efforts to comfort those children is awesome!

    • Thanks, Matt. Kim and I were as surprised as anyone that Lincoln decided to go up yesterday. He must have been planning it for a while because he didn’t act nervous at all. I think you’re right about what others see in children.

  2. Cheers to you and your wife!

    Handling even one child can be challenging. I decided early on that 2 was going to be plenty for us.

    This story immediately hits me that I should be more like that man that came up to you at the restaurant.

    It also reminds me not to act like the lady in the line.

    As an aside note, if I go to a movie targeted at children, I don’t expect total silence. I just try to sit away from the loudest ones. Ha.

    As always, your friend,
    Todd
    @tojosan

    • Brett Nordquist says:

      Todd, sometimes even one feels like too many. You live and you learn and hopefully improve with each child. I too strive to be more like the man, but I seldom look for opportunities like he did. Thanks for the comment.

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