My family took a trip to St. Louis, Missouri last week on our way south to Oklahoma from Minnesota. We were going to see some new friends, hanging out for breakfast together. They had two boys, the ages of two of ours. The husband worked as a federal security officer at the famous Arch.
While there, we witnessed a family that had half a dozen urchins and another family with two very sweet and uncommonly good kids.
When we arrived, we saw the family with six kids walking down the sidewalk. The sprinkler system at the National Monument had just turned on and was spraying the concrete, keeping it wet, as well as hitting a few blades of grass. The father of the urchins yelled out a militaristic order for the kids to skirt the spray's reach so as to not get wet.
Their oldest boy, who was six years old, decided to edge close to the spray while the dad was watching the other five. He was almost into the water when his father's head spun around on his neck and hissed an order through his teeth. I was sure that I heard a semblance of a cuss word escape his mouth. The six-year-old decided that he had done his job of getting the proper reaction and skirted the water, as commanded. The father then looked around to make sure nobody had seen him squeak at his son, grabbed the hand of his gorgeous wife, and walked on.
About that time, a young boy ran up to the family and inquired in a sweet voice whether or not they were the family his crew was supposed to see that day. Apparently, these two broods had never met each other. The mom and dad of the six beamed and the six kids enveloped the young boy, chattering at the top of their lungs. The noise was deafening but the new friend ate it up like he was starved for more friends.
Soon, the family of six was greeted by the mother of the young boy, a younger son, and taking up the rear, the husband with a sharp covert ops cut. The father of the six kids unobtrusively puffed his chest out, trying to appear as if he had been exercising his pecs his entire life. The mothers greeted each other, hit it off immediately, and took no pretenses.
The eight kids all ran down to the blue ponds. The two boys took orders from their dad to not jump in the pond while the six kids ignored their dad and did their best to try and jump in the smelly chemicals. Every time one of them went close to the edge, the other seven would increase the noise level like a pack of hens and fourteen arms would grapple the neck of the one getting away and pull him kicking and screaming to safety. They six-year-old boy from the family of six and his younger, two-year-old brother realized that this was fun and continued the frightening game.
Then, they all rushed to eat doughnuts, chocolate milk, fruit, and juice. After getting all sticky, they went into the arch.
I lost sight of them until they came back from the arch tram and went into the museum.
The two boys stuck with their parents, doing exactly as the parents asked while the other six kids climbed all over the museum walls, rode the fake bull, jumped the ropes and picked at the stuffed grizzly hair. At one point the little baby was put down by her father and decided to run away. The mom of the two boys saw it coming and chased her down, much to the little girls delight. The father of the six, doing nothing, seemed a bit shy when the covert ops dad softly commanded the six kids to stop climbing all over the walls and exhibits because it was a museum. They listened.
I lost sight of them as the families hit the bathrooms. Then, the sounds of shattering glass and spilling liquids made it apparent that the family of six kids had entered the coffee shop. Shortly thereafter, a wail came from the open shop door. The youngest son had hung on the checkout counter, fallen, and knocked his remaining front tooth (not sure how he lost the other one...but it doesn't surprise me that he did) on the counter's lip on his way down.
The parents came out with cups of coffee in their hands, the two boys of the one family doing what their parents asked and the father of the six kids pretending he had no children. The mother of the six was lost in conversation with the mother of the two and apparently expected her husband to handle his children.
They left the building, the kids splashing in every puddle from a recent rainstorm, getting dirty. The father of the six valiantly tried to tell his kids to stop, then threw up his hands, saying something cute to act like he always let his kids be kids and splash in puddles.
Apparently, I was trying to gain respect from my new friends that I was a good dad....er....oops.
Yep. Story of my life.