Sunday, September 21, 2014

The other table

The problem with the back-room tables at IHOP is that they're sort of connected, half-booth half-table, and there is absolutely no way to stay out of other people's space. This irks me. I value my space. And also I'm used to worrying about my kids in public spaces, because of their complete inability to speak softly or to get through a single restaurant meal without lying down on the seat or all over each other, and giggling.

It's a bit of an irony for an introvert like me to have two such extroverted kids. I'm constantly thinking "Stop drawing ATTENTION to yourself!" even though I know the vast majority of people find the kids charming.

So we were sitting there in our table/booth hybrid and a cluster of young folks sat next to us. Now I was worried about youthful eye-rolling and secret young-person pity for the old lady with the annoying kids. They got to talking -- and I couldn't have tuned this out if I'd wanted to -- and my heart just melted.

One of the boys was discussing his mom's ongoing fight to get alimony payments from his dad. Apparently Dad was claiming that his son didn't need the cash anymore, because he's all grown up and has a job and everything. The boy said no, Dad knows he has mental problems and doesn't have a job and is living with his grandmother. Dad, apparently, goes to great lengths to not hand over any cash. The boy's friends commiserated.

I felt so bad for the kid. His parents were fighting, his dad didn't want to help him, he didn't sound remotely ready to solve his own problems. He had no idea what to do next, and he couldn't have been older than 21.

If your parents aren't acting like grown-ups, how are you supposed to figure out how to do it?

The kids and I, meanwhile, having finished our discussion of the relative merits of various Muppet movies, got up to go. "Bye!" kiddette said to the kids next door. They all laughed, and the lone girl at the table, a pretty blonde, said, "Bye!" right back.

They seemed like nice young folks. I hope they turn out OK.

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