an open letter to the man at the other table

To the man who sat next to us at the restaurant last night,

You can’t have known it was a social experiment, us taking our crew out in public last night.
You can’t have known we were celebrating two things and wanted to do it in a big (but still manageable) way.
You can’t have known the screaming melt-downs that occurred to get everyone in their shoes and out the door.
You can’t have known that our three-year-old saw the open garage door as an invitation to jump on his Christmas gift big-boy-bike for the first time ever and experiment riding it down our 45-degree-angled driveway and straight into the road.
Nor could you have known about my husband who can’t walk but tried to run to chase him back to safety.

You can’t have known our reasons for celebrating trumped even our fear of how our 12-year-old behaves at 6 p.m. EVERY DAY.
Or that the low rumbling at our table was typical for our meals (no you can’t sit at another table without us, yes you can have chocolate milk, no you can’t have a shake and pie), that in the privacy of our home, there’s nothing really “low” about that rumbling.

You can’t know how we wait for strangers reactions to our three-year-old interrupting their dinner, praying they will think it is cute when he asks why their pancakes are purple.
You can’t know how we debate which restaurant will have the perfect balance of noise (to camouflage our own) with the fewest people who might be annoyed in case of screaming. Because yeah, there will probably be some screaming.

And so, when our son turned upside down in his high chair to say hello to you and remark on your pancakes,
You can’t have known how much we appreciated it when you responded so kindly, when you turned to him and engaged, disappearing a quarter and reappearing it in his ear, then giggling when later, he showed you how he could keep the quarter in his ear and thought it was the exact same magic.

You can’t know how it turned our social experiment into a success when you brought the circle of your table into the world of friendship with ours.

Thank you for loving when you didn’t have to, for giving 25 cents and 100% happiness. Thank you for the moment when you stepped away from your table for a minute and our son looked at George Washington’s image and remarked loudly, “Look! It’s Jesus!”

Because of you, we might not be afraid when we have two things to celebrate next time. On the chance we will meet you, we will surely venture out again.

the mom at the other table


One thought on “an open letter to the man at the other table

  1. I loved this one so much! I actually look for tables next to families when I eat out. I’d love to sit next to yours more often!

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