It isn’t often I stop another man in public and offer him a compliment, especially when my husband is with me. But a few days ago, I witnessed something that impressed me and I couldn’t let the moment pass.
While shopping for a housewarming gift, I heard the unmistakable sound of merchandise tumbling from the shelf on the aisle next to me. Grateful it wasn’t me knocking things over, I ignored the commotion until a blur rushed by. The next words and the tone of concern piqued my interest.
“Honey, are you all right?”
I peeked over the shelves in time to see a rather large man rush to the side of a young preteen girl. Her reply was too low for me to hear, but she looked relieved.
He patted her back. “It’s okay, nothing broke.” His voice was gentle. “Let me help you.” He knelt beside her and together they returned each item to its rightful place. He stood, smiled, gave her a reassuring pat on the back, and moved away, leaving her to shop on her own, once again. He left her with no words of reproach or caution to watch what she was doing. He headed in my direction to resume his own shopping as if nothing had happened.
I thought of the many times I’d witnessed other children in similar situations and the reaction of other parents.
The small child smacked on their tiny hand, bottom, or jerked away from the store shelves for simply mimicking mommy. The angry and frustrated mother, “I told you not touch!” The language changes as children grow but the reaction is often the same.
“Get away from there.”
“If you break that it’s coming out of your allowance.”
“Do you think I’m made of money?”
Much like the economy, patience is running thin in families across our nation. Our society is in turmoil to the point we are now debating the meaning of family, but as I observed this stranger with his daughter it was clear to me this man was an active, involved father and he understood completely the meaning of family. He gave me hope.
“Excuse me Sir,” I said.
Replacing an item on the shelf, he turned to me. “Yes?” He said. His smile was warm and welcoming. Faint crows feet crinkled in curiosity, as he looked right at me. I could see why his daughter felt safe.
“I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with how you handled your daughter’s mishap a few minutes ago. So often, I see parents get angry with their children when something like that happens, but your first concern was for your daughter, not the merchandise. It was wonderful to witness such parental love and patience.”
He seemed surprised.”Why, thank you, but we have five children, we’re used to seeing lots of things get broken.” He chuckled.
“Well, I just thought you should know, you’re a great example for fathers.”
“Thank you. I do my best.”
“Lucky kids.” I said, walking way.