So I took my kids to Chick-fil-A for dinner tonight. Hubby had rehearsal, and I thought since they hadn’t had it in a few days, it was a good dinner option for just the four of us. I was actually pretty pleased with how the whole experience was going; they ate well, played nicely, and had even exchanged their toys for ice cream without any meltdowns. Finally, I gave them the five minute warning before we left to come home.
Then the two minute.
Then the “One more slide down, and then get your shoes on!”
J came out first… my sweet little three and a half year old. He was still squealing, but carried his socks and shoes to our table. EK, my five year old, typical oldest child, came next, her shoes already on. It became clear I was going to have to drag D, my only semi-coherently communicating two year old, out of the play area by force.
As I was wrangling D out from the top of where I could possibly reach inside that sticky, primary-colored plastic, I saw EK next to the door to leave the restaurant, her head turned, looking for me. Assuming she was just being impatient, I almost ignored her, until I didn’t see J.
I bolted out the door of the play area, knowing D probably wasn’t going anywhere anyway. EK shouted at me that J had run outside, just as I saw his shoes and socks at our table. My heart began to pound in my chest, afraid that the Chick-fil-A local high school fundraiser dinner rush was the optimal time for my kid to get snatched, or run over. You know, worst case scenario stuff. (Spoiler: he is fine.)
As I told EK to get back to D in the play area and wait there, I ran smack into my savior – a woman holding my giggling son by the arm, saying, “I’m just worried about this child!” I snatched (see the irony?) said giggling child, and began reprimanding and crying simultaneously. Then, I managed to look at my savior, the woman who had prevented my child from being run over or snatched by a stranger… Full into the face of a woman I knew. A sweet family friend, a mom of several littles herself, who just happened to be walking into Chick-fil-A empty-handed, leaving a free hand to grab my wayward child. Bless her heart, she didn’t know when she chose her dinner location how she would cause tears of relief to run down my face. (And also a long talk about safe choices, followed by a consequence of skipping his nightly TV time.) This parent fail is just one more example of how it takes a tribe, y’all. Do the good works for your fellow mamas.