This is a question for the Dads and Moms out there in cyberspace. Is it just me, or is it necessary to identify yourself as a parent when you approach another father / mother with small kids and offer assistance?
This morning, for example, I’m waiting for a client in my local Starbucks and it’s fairly busy in the store when in walks a mother carrying a baby in the bucket car seat in one hand and holding hands with a toddler in the other hand.
She orders her coffee, buys her daughter a treat and then finds the only open table which has one chair placed beneath it. She places the bucket on the table, and sits her daughter in the chair.
Seeing this, I know that there is a bit of space at the large rectangle table in the back and I could totally go there to work, so I get up, and offer her my chair.
She politely denies.
Then I start thinking… I’m in my 40’s, and what’s left of my hair is pretty grey, I’m in a grey suit, and I don’t wear my wedding band because it doesn’t fit my finger (hello 1st child 25lb weight gain – 13 years ago) so maybe she politely declines because I’m a creepy guy offering her a seat.
Then I remember that creeps don’t wear suits.
Work with me here…
So I tell her it’s okay, she can have the seat because I’m going to sit in the back.
Then the panic in her eyes leaves, and she says that she appreciates the offer but she’s waiting for her coffee then she’s jetting out of here to a play date.
That told me 2 things; Firstly, she recognized that I’m a parent too and I totally understand how brave she is with a child in a bucket and a toddler – just leaving the house should be commended.
Secondly, she might not have panicked if I had started with something like this; “Hey, would you like to use my seat? I’ve been there – have 3 of my own – you might be more comfortable, even for a minute, knowing your kids are safe and you can wait comfortably with them.
Or is that worse?
Am I reading too much into this?
Or being approached by a stranger, the default is to reject, not to engage and protect the kiddos.
Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.