Our five year-old’s favorite restaurant is Bickford’s. Mostly because they serve breakfast all day, and all of us are big fans of breakfast for dinner.
We typically go once or twice a month, and this week I remembered why we stopped going on Friday nights.
Every Friday there are two older gentlemen that sit in the main dining room. One talks very loudly – the other says very little. I get the impression that this weekly outting may be the only chance that either of them have to regularly share a meal with someone.
The loud one mostly complains. He’s crass and mean. He treats the waitstaff poorly and his language indicates that he either doesn’t notice, or doesn’t care about the children sitting within earshot.
The men leave before our food arrives, and as I watch them struggle for the exit – both using the backs of nearly every chair for assistance, and the quiet one with a spine so mangled his head looks to be permanently down, like a child perpetually shamed – I try to forgive myself for not speaking up and wish them peace.
How do you know when getting involved will help instead of hurt? Did I just make it worse by sitting here?
Then, out of nowhere Briggs did speak up.
“Hey, I have an idea! Mom or Dad, one of you can be President.” It was clear from his voice that this idea was in fact new, and to him, a complete and sound solve.
Ken and I both smiled and laughed, just a little.
“Buddy, I don’t want that job,” Ken said.
“And, I don’t have the heart for it,” I added.
Briggs sank in his seat just for a moment, and then popped back up.
“Then, how about me? I could be President!”
Now Ken and I shared his enthusiasm.
“If I were President,” he promised, “I’d make sure it was law forever that no matter the color of your skin, or your hair, or your eyes, or your shirt, you could always go anywhere you wanted to go.”
“That’s called freedom, Bud, and it’s what we’re all about.”
Ken kissed him and then our breakfast arrived. And all of the complicated and conflicted feelings surrounding this dinner out started to clear up:
Be who your five year-old believes you are (I silently heard myself say) and stay connected to those good beliefs of all of us going anywhere and doing anything.