Earlier this week, my family and I went to Chick-Fil-A on family night. (Read why here). Usually after eating, I’m the only parent in the kids room. You know, the one with 20 screaming kids in their bare feet running up the slide?
This night was different because two other dads were in there with me. We were checking Facebook on our phones and waving at our kids in the cow car 10-feet up in the air…just doing the dad thing.
Then, this little boy, no older than 6, came barreling down the slide and walked over to one of the dads, the one who was red-headed with a full beard. The boy stood right in front of him and sneezed in his face. Red-headed bearded dad, said “HEY!” And the little boy laughed.
Then, the boy acted like he was going to sneeze again. The next thing I know the boy spit in the dad’s face.
“If you do that again, I’m going to punch you in the face, little boy,” yelled the dad. (It was at this point I realized the boy and dad didn’t go together.)
The little snot replied, “Oh yeah, and I’ll kick you.”
“Try it and see what happens,” Red said.
Snot backed up like Charlie Brown and kicked Red hard in the left shin. All three of us dads were in total shock.
“Where are your parents, little boy?” Red asked.
“I don’t have any parents. They are dead,” Snot said. He spouted out how he came to the restaurant by himself and how he didn’t have any grown-ups watching him. (That last part was evident by now.)
The third dad walked out into the dining room to show Red where he’d last spotted Snot with some grown-ups. Red grabbed up his daughter and tromped over to the table.
At first, I couldn’t see Snot’s dad. I was thinking “if the dad is anything like the son, then this could end badly.”
Then I saw Snot’s dad, a pudgy, 5’3” guy with a depressing gait, gesturing and obviously apologizing. Pudgy dad and Red exchanged words through the glass and then both headed back toward the kids room. Pudgy had Snot come over and tell Red he was sorry. As expected, Snot was reluctant with no remorse or sincerity. Pudgy said, “Again, I’m terribly sorry.”
“You’d better be,” Red said.
Snot and Snot’s dad quickly left the building, but Red was still fuming.
I broke the silence. “If his dad would’ve been a big guy, I had your back.”
Scanning my 6’4″, 190-lb-frame, he said, “I wouldn’t need it. I don’t do much well, but one thing I can do is fight.”
“If this would’ve been McDonald’s, I would’ve beaten that guy’s EXPLETIVE. Chick-Fil-A saved that guy’s life tonight,” Red said.
“You know he has to know his son behaves like that. Why wouldn’t he be in here with him?” I puzzled.
“Because, he’s a sissy,” Red pronounced. “He’s probably been a sissy his whole life and now he won’t discipline his kids because he’s scared to.”
He then went on a lengthy monologue about what he would’ve done if that were his kid spitting on people, lying to them and kicking them and how his dad gave him tough love. I didn’t hear much of it because my mind stuck on his choice of the word, “sissy.”
I hadn’t thought of that word since the third grade, but found it an appropriate descriptor of Pudgy.
Wikipedia defines “sissy” like this – a pejorative term for a boy or man who violates or does not meet the traditional male gender role. Generally, sissy implies a lack of courage and stoicism, which are thought important to the male role.
The thought of being scared to discipline my own children was absolutely foreign to me. Now, I’m not a heavy-handed dad and rarely spank my 3.5-year-old. But I discipline her daily because I love her. I love her too much to let her live life without structure, rules, manners and decency. I love her too much to let spitting in a stranger’s face pass for acceptable behavior.
Good fathers discipline their children
We discipline out of love not anger. We discipline intentionally and consistently. The Bible says God disciplines His children too. I’ve been a first-hand recipient of divine discipline and it’s no fun. Zero. Zilch.
This got me thinking about Snot’s dad…where he could be in life and what his fathering or apparent lack of was resulting in. I mean, I’ve never seen a kid act this terrible in public. (The third dad said Snot had been grabbing food from other people’s tables and bullying the other kids too.)
Dear dads, please discipline your children.
I know it’s easier not to.
I know you may be depressed. I know you may be struggling with unrealized dreams or crippled by debt. Or you may be unemployed right now and that’s got you on the ropes. You may be going through a divorce. I know how men are smothered, suffocated and choked with life addictions, like substance abuse, pornography, gambling, etc.
I know you may have had a bad dad. I know you might not have a good example (or any example) to follow. Your marriage may not be going the way you wanted to. Your dreams may have been crushed by a relative, spouse or work situation.
You may not know God’s love for you. You don’t understand why he loves dirtbags like us. You may think church-going men are weak. You may not have ever looked at God the Father with the right perspective because of heavy-handed, hypocritical religious parents.
But you need to be a man and be a good dad for your kid. Your love for them should override your need for their acceptance. You need to discipline your kid.
Don’t be scared to discipline your kids. Don’t be a sissy. But, don’t be a bully either.
Be the man of your family and stand up to your kids now. If you don’t, someone is probably going to punch them in the face. And if you bring them to Chick-Fil-A and they spit in another dad’s face, you might get punched in the face…even if you’re 40 years old.