Scene: A family with three children enters a busy restaurant, where they are meeting their cousins for dinner. It is 5:15 pm. The six-year-old is tired and grumpy after a long but awesome day at the Adler Planetarium.
Child, starting to scream: “I hate this restaurant. I’m not going to eat here.”
Mother: “I’m sorry you don’t like this restaurant. You may not scream or we will take you outside.”
Father: “We can help you find something to order that you like. But if you scream, we will simply leave you with a sitter the next time we go out for a family dinner.”
Child, screaming: “I hate everything at this restaurant. I don’t want to eat here. I hate this place. It’s terrible.”
Father: “The group has decided to eat at this restaurant. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but sometimes we have to go along with the group. We aren’t leaving.”
Child: “I’m leaving! I’m leaving!”
Mother to Father: “Why don’t you order a glass of wine?”
Father: “I don’t want a glass of wine. I want her to stop screaming.”
Mother rummages through her purse and pulls out drawing paper and markers. She hands them across the table to the six-year-old. The child stops screaming and slides dramatically under the table, where she remains. Mother slides paper and markers under the table to the mercifully quiet but still sulking child.
Child will not be won over and methodically rips the drawing paper into tiny scraps. Waitress comes to take the order. Her eyes flicker to the child under the table and she smiles. A quiet child under the table is a hell of a lot better than a screaming child in the chair.
Mother to Child: “Why don’t you draw a picture and get your feelings out? Then you will probably feel better. Eating will help, too. You have low blood sugar, which is making you cranky.”
Child: "I will NOT feel better. You don't know how I will feel. Don't tell me how I will feel. You aren't me."
Mother: "You are right; I'm not you. But I SUSPECT you will feel better if you draw."
Mother will not break. She keeps a straight face and sends down her response. She will triumph. Love conquers hate.
A moment later, the waitress appears with a tray of food. The six-year-old quietly climbs into her chair, thanks the waitress, and begins eating her dinner. Five minutes into the meal, she looks at her mother and says, “I love you, Mommy. You are the best mom ever.”
The Mother smiles. The Father squeezes the Mother's hand.
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