At my recent trip to the supermarket I witnessed something that renewed my faith in young dads. (Before you think I am some sort of weird creeper. I was not spying on this family. The whole episode happened rather quickly AND they were in the way of my cereal!)
The supermarket is not a place we see many parents at their best – especially the cereal aisle.
Bored children are tempted with an onslaught of bright-colored boxes sporting fun characters. What child wouldn’t want to take one home? The youngest ones want to play with them; the older ones know they are full of sugary goodness. The cereal aisle can really test a parent’s mettle.
As I scanned the lower shelves for the gluten-free Rice Krispies an adorable little girl caught my eye. She was maybe three years old. The perfect height to look those cheery cartoon characters right in the eye. Nearly old enough to walk and talk like a little adult, but not nearly old enough to reason like one.
She was with who I assume was her father. An average looking young man, probably in his twenties. By the way she was acting, I could tell she was recently denied the joy of adding one of these magical boxes to the cart. Little Miss was in a mood! She was about to stomp off in a huff.
Daddy was having none of that.
He very calmly asked his daughter to hold his hand. Yeah, right! She did what every defiant little girl does. Little Miss pulled away and began to stomp off, albeit very slowly. Daddy calmly informed her that if she did not hold his hand, he would have to pick her up.
One more try at the hand.
No deal. Little Miss was fit to throw a fit at this point. You could see it coming. Fists clenching, brow furrowing.
Daddy made good on his word.
He scooped up his daughter and held her to his chest. Little Miss, of course, was now throwing her fit. You know how it goes. The tantrum. Parents you have dealt with it a hundred thousand times. Fellow grocery shoppers you have walked by it, probably rolled your eyes at it too. Legs kicking, crying just to make noise.
It was adorable.
Little Miss was having a crying fit on Daddy’s shoulder and he didn’t bat an eye. I doubt his pulse increased even a beat per minute.
As they exited the cereal aisle, finally allowing me to access the yummy goodness I craved, he leaned his head to look at his daughter. She picked up her teary-eyed head. Daddy very simply asked her “Are you done yet?” She stopped crying just long enough to shake her head and moan “No”. Daddy said, “ok”, gently guided her head back onto his shoulder, and kept walking.
Little Miss continued her crying. And why not? Her world was ending! She was denied a box of colorful friends. She was snagged up from her grocery aisle romp. The horror!
I saw them shortly after.
Little Miss still in Daddy’s arms. Smile on her face. No cereal in the cart.
I loved seeing this. It turned me to mush.
What a great dad.
What makes me so gushy over this?
It is as much about what I didn’t see as what I did. Anyone can gush over a young dad holding his daughter. That’s a no brainer.
What didn’t I see?
– There was no yelling at the child. What good would it do to yell at a three-year old?
-There was no reasoning with the child. Why should there be? She doesn’t understand why she wants it let alone your adult reasons why she can’t have it.
– There was no dragging the defiant child down the aisle by her tiny hand. This is always a bad idea, but believe me I still see it.
Maybe there was something in the air that day that allowed this young man to keep his cool so beautifully. I have to say, everyone was oddly cheery and chatty. Or maybe he is just a good dad that does not believe in yelling at, arguing with, or dragging his daughter.
I am going to be optimistic and go with the Good Dad Theory.
I wonder how patient he will be when she is a teenager!