About a hundred years ago when Rob and I were dating and still quite ga-ga over each other we used to have breakfast at a diner most Sunday mornings. We didn't have a usual spot, we'd pick different places depending on where we were headed that day. One day we were at some diner we'd never been to before (and haven't been back to since) happily ensconced in a booth awaiting our pancakes and eggs and other yummy diner breakfast treats when a family of five sat down at the booth behind us. The husband and wife sat on one side and the three children crowded into the other side. It was a tight fit, but it worked.
They were a loud family so we couldn't help overhearing much of what was going on at the table. The mother declared loudly that she was getting the Belgian waffles with whipped cream and when one of the kids asked if they could have that too she said, "No, there's too much sugar in that for you. You'll be crazy all day."
Rob and I were a little surprised that she would do that, but the bigger shock came a few minutes later when after the kids were arguing over space on their side of the booth the father asked the oldest boy, who was maybe 10 years old, to go sit by himself at the counter. The look on that boy's face broke my heart. "No," he whined. "I don't want to sit by myself." His father tried to convince him it wasn't that far away and they would all be more comfortable, but the boy just said nothing and didn't get up. At this Rob and I were appalled. That poor boy. We were sure he would grow up to murder his father one day.
Throughout the rest of the meal we kept catching other nasty comments the parents were making to and about their kids and we couldn't help ourselves in feeling that we would never be that way with our own children. We have often recalled that breakfast and how horrible we thought those parents were and we have often felt that we could never/would never be like that.
Today I felt my first shred of sympathy for those parents. Zoë was just relentlessly badly behaved for most of this weekend. She is normally a talkative, energetic kid who has a little trouble listening and sitting still, but it was as if someone turned all those behaviors on high this weekend. I don't know what it was, but by this afternoon Rob and I both had pretty much had it and while we were waiting in line for our lunch I turned to Rob and said, "I'll have the Belgian waffles." He knew exactly what I meant.