Back Off Old Lady

On the morning of Christmas Eve, we visited another Panera, a few towns away from ours. You might be thinking – “Geesh, the Bab’s sure do go to Panera a lot.”  And well, yes, we do…when we have a gift card.  For Christmas we were generously given a $50 gift card to Panera – and we blew that money so fast on pumpkin muffins, egg sandwiches and coffee, it didn’t last the week.

So at 8:30am, we arrive in the Panera parking lot, hungry and ready for a fun fam day.  P.A. goes in for a parking spot and is cut off by a car that he thought was pulling out, but was really backing into that said parking spot.  So, we move on and find another spot after affectionately nick-naming the driver of the other car “mustache guy”.  As we are unloading the wee babs to go into Panera, I hear P.A. grumbling things like, “I can’t believe mustache guy wasn’t watching where he was going” and “mustache guy should’ve just parked normally, instead of backing in”, etc…

Once inside Panera, P.A. gets in line – which was long – behind mustache guy. I take the 3 wee babs to find a good table.  Soleil & Salem head toward the comfy chairs next to the fireplace, disturbing an older lady who was sitting there.  I call them over the booth I’ve found closest to the fireplace… (it’s all about sitting near the fireplace when you go to a Panera on a cold winters day).  The wee babs are on one side of the booth, peeking over the top trying to see daddy while he’s waiting in line, and I am on the other side.  A few minutes later another guy, who I am affectionately calling “santa hat” guy, comes over to say “hello” to the kids.  He assumed they were looking at him, and I assumed he thought that because he was wearing a santa hat.  When he says “hello”, they dive into the booth, hiding from him.  I kindly explain, sorry santa hat guy, they don’t care about santa and know he’s not real.  We don’t really care about your santa hat, they were just looking for their daddy in line.  He smiles and goes back into the line with his wife, who I’m affectionately naming “wife of santa hat guy”.

Then I hear P.A. talking and saying “no, you can have it…(response) but if you don’t want it, we will buy it.”  A few minutes later, he comes over with the muffins and declares, “Mustache guy just took the last souffle!  We ordered it at the same time. He wasn’t even sure he wanted it, and I had to wait for him to discuss with his wife (wife of mustache guy) whether or not they wanted it, when I knew we wanted it!”

Dilemma: this was a crisis moment for me.  I could either get upset, flip out and say something like, “Oh great! Now our breakfast is ruined!”  Instead, I calmly said, “It’s no big deal, the kids can eat their muffins and share my egg sandwich.”  After all, it was nice for P.A. to give up his rights to the last souffle and let mustache guy have it.

So the wee babs started eating their muffins while P.A. was waiting for our egg sandwiches to be made.  Then all hell broke loose.  He waited. and waited. and waited. After waiting some more, he went up to the counter and the Panera worker confessed, I’m sorry sir – we forgot your order.  Now P.A. was fuming.  He came back to the booth explaining the situation to me, upset that he was missing Christmas Eve breakfast with our fam.  He calmed down a few minutes later when the first egg sandwich was delivered.  As the Panera worker handed us the sandwich, she realized we had ordered 2, so she offered to give us a 3rd egg sandwich on the house.  She also brought the wee babs tubes of yogurt and chips to appease the situation.  Nice, nice girl.

As we are waiting for the last 2 egg sandwiches, the kids are eating the yogurt and finishing up their muffins.  Selah now has yogurt all down her shirt and on her new blue purple suede boots.  I switch places with Salem and move over to sit by her and clean her up.  By this time, Salem has decided he is done with this wonderful family breakfast and does not want to sit back in the booth.  He has decided he wants to go home and is now sitting on the floor, arms crossed, lips pouted.  This upsets P.A., so he grabs Salem and pulls him up off of the floor to make him sit down in the booth.  Meanwhile, Selah is crying because I took away her yogurt.  Salem rebels against P.A.’s advances, flings his head back and hits it on the wooden edge of the booth, and is now screaming/crying.  Selah is still bawling and Soleil is cowering in the corner of the booth, wishing she was part of a different family.

As I calmly try and mom-mediate the situation saying things like, “It’s gonna be okay” and “everyone just calm down” or “calma down-down”, thru gritted teeth and a fake smile, I see P.A. put up his hand and say “Mam, please don’t.”  I turn and see standing beside me the older lady from the comfy chair beside the fireplace.  She starts to talk and P.A. cuts her off again, “Mam, please don’t, no thank you.”  She then responds, “Oh, I was just going to tell the kids about santa clause”.  P.A. just looks toward Salem, and I give her a fake smile with worried eyebrows, while thinking – please just go away.  We’ve got this situation under control.  The kids don’t care about santa clause.  They know he’s not real.  They will stop crying in a minute. and they did. And she did.  She just walked away.

A few moments passed and the wee babs calmed down.  Then, as we were watching the older lady leave Panera, she says good-bye to every worker, and a few of the other customers. Yep, she was a “regular”.  They all knew her name. Whew!  We were just thankful this whole incident had not happened at “our Panera”.  No one knew us at this Panera. Then P.A. started to question his actions, “Was it rude of me to cut her off?” I said, “No way, you did the right thing.”  This woman – however well intentioned she might have been – did not have a right to “speak” into our lives or “comment” on the situation.  I imagined if we would have let her talk she might have said something like, “Oh little children, if you’re crying and upset, santa can’t come and visit you tonight.” Blah, blah, blah.  Had she said that, I would have flipped.

In this ‘day and age’, people think they have the right to comment or speak into others’ lives probably more than any other time.  And we allow it, sometimes to a fault. Much of this is because of facebook or blogs or other communication avenues in which we ‘put ourselves out there’ and wait to hear what people have to say about it.  But mostly I want to hear from God, and I value most what He thinks of me, my life, my blog, my facebook.  I do welcome and enjoy comments on my blog or my facebook page from all of you.  It’s fun to get feedback.  But I have boundaries.  So don’t cross them.  Or I will have to say “Back off old lady”.

Noted. By Les Babs

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