“Oh, waitress”

My eldest is generally spared becoming a human caricature on my blog. Mainly because I think it’s hard enough to be a teen and get through the awkward years without your mom putting you under the bright lights.

But this instance. Oh, this one. This one small slice of life on a Sunday afternoon deserves a bit of limelight.

I’ve watched as three “girlfriends” in six months have trotted in and out of my son’s life. I’ve generally duct taped my own mouth and sat on my hands when tempted to preach, proselytize or point him in a direction. As the youngest of six strong-willed daughters and the mother of two stubborn boys, I have seen the merits of letting kids learn on their own. I’ve also seen the pain that can cause. Overall, however, it’s their rodeo. I have my own.

My eldest tends to share with me in a way he doesn’t with his dad. He talks girls, friendships—the human element. In between the bravado-filled statements meant to show me he is his own master, he craves some connection, some anchoring. In a two-household family, that anchoring is probably more sorely needed than in others.

So when he shared that his latest match was “out of the picture,” I pressed a bit. “Why?” I asked. “It’s no big deal, Mom. Really. Don’t make it a big deal,” he admonished me.

As we cleaned out the garage together, I let it drop. We spoke of other things. What kind of car I should get in the future. Whether he wanted his birthday adventure to involve kayaking the river or the lake. Then we settled into a comfortable silence as we swept.

“Ok, Mom. She isn’t a nice person. I broke up with her because she just isn’t a nice person.”

I cautiously asked, “How so?” while hoping the answer did not involve her breaking his heart.

“She is rude to waiters and waitresses. To shop clerks. To anyone she doesn’t count as ‘important.’ At work, she was always nice but in the real world, not so nice. She thinks her family’s money gives her the right to be crappy to people.”

I stopped sweeping and looked him in the eye. Nodded approval. Smiled. I said, “How about I go make those birthday brownies for you?” And then scurried off before I showed any of the emotion that would embarrass him.

In the kitchen, I smiled as a few tears came. Jesus, I thought. Something stuck.

For those of you who are not parents, this may not make sense. For those of you who are parents of kids who have not had their lives turned upside down, who have not had to best their worst selves as anger and confusion reigned, who have not put your head in your hands at the kitchen island and cried because “this” was not what you had in mind for your kids’ family life—again, my reaction may not make sense.

But for me, it made the ultimate sense. I blew a kiss toward the ceiling and whispered, “Thanks, Dad.” Because it was that man who taught me to treat everyone with respect. It was that man, who sold suits in a department store, who made me realize how very much the way we treat anyone that serves us matters.

My friend said to me, “Of course he broke up with her for that. You talk to everyone with respect, Kristine. You’re a chatter. You genuinely like people. He grew up watching that.”

I still marveled that the lesson had gotten through. Ask the average 17-year-old boy why he is attracted to a girl and you will hear, “She’s hot.” And according to my testosterone-laden boy, this girl was. To have a lesson in humanity trump teenage hormones is nothing short of a miracle to me.

As we head into my son’s last year before college, I wonder frantically where the years went. I ponder if I still have time to teach him how to better manage his money, properly utilize the myriad silverware at a formal dinner, change the furnace filter.

But tonight, it is enough that a lesson I never explicitly stated stuck.

I often joke with my boys that I am small but mighty.

So is this victory. Booyah for the mama.

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57 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow, Kristine, this is wonderful, and it makes perfect sense that you recognized the moment for what it was. Cool, Mom! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! We have to take those moments as they come:).

  2. I so get this! Love it!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for reading:).

      1. I’ve been away on vacation and now just getting back to life even though I’m still taking it easy for the next couple of weeks… my olders are packing for college and I’m spending all the moments I can with them 😦 but I always look for your words when I get back on! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

      2. candidkay says:

        I so appreciate that! Thank you. I hope the trip to college goes without incident. I know it is always a bittersweet transition, but it’s so great when we see the kids we’ve raised to fly start to flap their wings.

  3. Aunt Beulah says:

    It is no joke that you are small but mighty, Kay; you are. What a wonderful, wonderful story. Parenting matters; children notice.

  4. Booyah Indeed! Be a proud Mum today Kristine. Moments like this, do not “just happen” They are carved and molded and made over many years of hard work and patience. Its a gift to see the result of that work. A masterpiece for sure. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, those are inspiring words. Not surprising, coming from you. Thank you so much!

  5. What an amazing lovely story. Why is it that we weep in the kitchen, though?

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah yes, the kitchen table:). Where all world problems get solved, and laughter/weeping seems to happen. I think it’s just the heart of the home . . . but if you have a better theory, I’ll take it!

      1. I think kitchens are also places of magic and transformation…. But also the kettle, the dog and the chocolate biscuits! No good weeping without a cup of tea to feel better. Seriously, a lovely story, because when our lives take paths we do not choose for our children, its living in a tornado of emotions and hormones. Boyfriends girlfriends have come and gone. Some I miss others I do not. I had a colleague whose boyfriend clicked his fingers at serving staff…. awful man. It took her 12 years ro wise up. Your son has more sense than alady in her fifties. Love those proud Mom Moments

      2. candidkay says:

        I agree–magic and transformation. When my sons have had a rough go of it in the world, we always seem to end up in the kitchen with a home-cooked something:).

  6. Spyro says:

    I have similar conversations with my kids. More with my daughter than my son, but I am speaking more directly about such things with my son then I used to. I think it is valuable to our children to talk directly to them about relationships, etc. – even if there is disagreement or difficulty. Even if the immediate conversation has minimal impact, I find that they do not forget or ignore. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s great that you’re speaking openly about your expectations. I think this is an area we probably didn’t ever speak plainly about, but I knew that they were seeing my example. And in this area, at least, it was a good one. I’m so glad they picked up on it without the conversation. I guess it could’ve gone the other way!

  7. Lovely post. More of the good values stick with them than we know at the time. (And just wait till they get older and start throwing your preachings back at you! That’s when you realize how much of it stuck!)

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m counting the days for maturity of that nature! Thanks for the reminder that it is coming.

  8. George says:

    If your son already understands that one simple fact, he is already successful and a wonderful young man. You and your dad should be very proud..:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, George! Heartening when some of a mom’s hopes for her child are realized.

  9. I’m just a teenager myself, but I love this story. Great job to you, it looks like he is going to grow up to be a good man

    1. candidkay says:

      Well, thank you for reading:). If I have any say in it, he will be a good man.

  10. I’m astonished at how my own children chose their unique and wonderful partners. I watched in fear and trembling as they dallied with early choices, some delightful, some seriously wrong. Somehow, good sense lined up with sex appeal. My sister was given a lesson that stuck, at the right time, from a friend’s mother. “Here is something that nobody else will ever tell you, but it is the most important thing, the only important thing when choosing a husband: choose somebody kind.” Your son learned that in his own sweet time. Big whew!

    1. candidkay says:

      Big whew is right! The funny thing is, I often tell him that you truly know a person when you’ve seen them experience lost luggage and a thunderstorm without an umbrella :-). The third piece to that triumvirate is how they treat people who serve them. I am so glad your kids made wise choices and I am very sure it had to do with the person you are :-).

      1. And a big dose of luck, for sure!

  11. RuthsArc says:

    Oh, it makes perfect sense. The joy of knowing the things we have said over the years and have tried to install in our kids did sink in and do reappear. I love your phrase ..I’ve generally duct taped my own mouth and sat on my hands when tempted to preach, proselytize or point him in a direction.” Thanks for the post 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      They can’t learn on us, right? But they can certainly learn from us:)

  12. Su Leslie says:

    Yes!!!! Your son is a fine young man, and you have done a great job. I do feel that saying this is a kind of rub-off compliment too though, since I had a similar situation with my son recently. The setting was different but the words the same. So I totally get how you feel. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I hope you are carrying that feeling around with you and bringing it out when he is less than a noble human being :-). I know I am! Congrats, mama bear.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        Totally. And much needed today. 🙂

  13. Dale says:

    Bravo Kristine! There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING better than when our boys (in your and my case, anyway) show us, without their knowing it, that we “done good”. That our quiet lessons have been heard. They they actually will turn into proper humans (I say that as, let’s face it, whilst teenagers, they are not always so…)

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, the turning into proper humans bit. Yes. It’s like a peek into a crystal ball you weren’t sure was there!!

  14. Amy says:

    What a stellar moment for your son and you! I just loved reading this! Cudos to both of you. xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! It was one of those happy parenting moments that I think I will remember for quite some time :-).

  15. Hallelujah! Sometimes the clouds part in the parental firmament, clearing the way for us to hear the angels singing. My father always taught us you can tell a lot about a person by how he or she treats waiters and waitresses. Score one for midwestern values! He also required each of his children to do a stint in food service at some point along the way. I’ve also had some parental victories of late with my 20-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter. Love when the wisdom and compassion come shining through in the most unexpected ways. Just what we need — and deserve — to help us continue fighting the many anxiety-inducing factors beyond our control. Well done!

  16. I am Aranab says:

    This is so so so awesome. I wish everyone broke up with their s/o based on this one principle and the world will be a lot nicer and kinder place! Thank you for sharing this

    1. candidkay says:

      And thank you for reading:).

  17. I am not a mother, Kristine, but the significance of this moment is not lost on me. It speaks volumes about who you are, what you have taught your children and the kind and caring man he is destined to be. Bravo!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! It’s painful when you see your children have picked up your bad habits. But the flipside is wonderful :-). When they pick up what is good within you and continue to bring it to the world.

  18. suemclaren24 says:

    We are role models All The Time. I have step-families, and I am amazed how often the grand-kids bring up some reference to what Grandma did or said, things I don’t remember but are just part of who I am. It’s comforting to know that they are paying attention, and that they are good at making their own (informed) decisions.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s true. They are always watching and what we do matter so much more than what we say.

  19. Oh wow….I’m not a mother, but it does make sense, Kristine. Very much. You did a great job, woo-hoo!!! 😀 Congratulations!!! That’s something to celebrate, and I’m celebrating your victory!!! 😀 ❤

    Much Love, & Brightest of Blessings!!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Believe me, I am celebrating:)

  20. You have shown him the bits that count Kay. Respect of himself, which in turn he give’s out to others ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Mark. There is no better feeling than when an unspoken lesson sticks :-).

  21. 3delightfulangels says:

    That’s awesome! I’m a mom of 8 (blended family) and every time they do something that swells my heart ❤️ I just shake my head and whisper well done. Kudos mom you deserve that booyah.

    1. candidkay says:

      Eight! Bless you :-). I bet there’s a lot of joy there. And those booyahs? Well, we all deserve them!

  22. Anne Peters says:

    YES!!! You can be very proud of him & pat yourself on the back too – I am very proud of him too & if it won’t make him too “uncomfortable” you can tell him that.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you-and of course it would make him too uncomfortable :-). I am duct taping my mouth again. But it makes me happy that you’re proud of him :-).

  23. Cindy says:

    Good job Mama!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! We get it right sometimes, right? 🙂 Thank goodness.

  24. gpdavall says:

    Yes you are mighty! I have had a moment or two myself recently with that feeling that something go through and stuck. Love that fuzzy feeling. You are a shining example to your boys!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend! We do the best we can, right? Throw a lot at the wall and hope the good stuff sticks:).

  25. Pam says:

    what a great way to start my Friday morning! You did good Mom!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks! From the looks of it, so did you, Mama Bear:). Have a great day!

  26. KathyJean says:

    Oh wow, I totally get it. (Mom of three teens and a preschooler). Those moments that make your heart swell to bursting with hope. It’s like a tiny fear-eraser when you realize something really did get through and maybe things will turn out ok afterall, despite all the other crap that is going on. I always love those little moments where I am shown the true goodness in their hearts. The way you wrote this and the way the scene played out is so similar to things I have experienced. These are the moments that help get us through.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I think these moments are universal. That they happen the world over (at least I hope so). Makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it! By the time that preschooler is a teen, you’ll be so well seasoned I bet you’ll be able to PREDICT those moments:).

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