Being a single mom to three kiddos hasn’t always been a walk in the park. Wait, it’s still not, but neither was being a married mom at times. Kids will be kids. Making the adjustment from a two income household to one was a learning experience that taught me how to cut coupons, negotiate and seek out bargains. But more importantly, it taught me to be thankful and gracious for even the smallest things.
My parenting skills probably fall somewhere middle of the road, with some highs and lows in between. I love my children dearly and try to have an open, honest relationship where we have teaching moments with out over doing it. I also have Italian and Irish blood which makes for a very short fuse at times and have a hard time dealing with pig hooey.
All of that being said, times have been tough in the Harper house over the years, but for the most part, times have been great. Financially speaking, my real estate business is successful and my children rarely doing without what they need or want and we splurge every now and again on special occasions. I have a few standard lessons that we could all live by.
Lesson number one: Always be gracious! If you’re served food at a friends house that isn’t your favorite, eat it anyways and say thank you. Always thank your host for having you over, or for a ride to and fro, etc. Treat people kindly because you never know what they are dealing with in their own lives, i.e. a grumpy waitress, or rushed sales person or even a moody teacher.
Lesson number two: Always tip well and be sure to tip in cash. But during the Holidays tip like nobody’s business.
This week, lesson number two came to fruition in my home. You see, I’ve been waiting for this day for many years because I knew one day my kids would not only have an opportunity to tip well, but to do so graciously.
Let me take you back a few years, five to be exact. We were having a late breakfast just a few days before Christmas at the IHOP here in McKinney before finishing up our last minute shopping. Our waitress was a sweet young girl that was a bit frazzled and forgetful. But IHOP was crowded and my kids were much younger so they were slurping down their chocolate milk like it was going out of style. Our bill was no more than $25 and as we we’re getting up to leave I left a $20 bill on the table, to which my middle child exclaimed “That’s a big tip, Mom!” And my oldest chimed in something about more than 20% and that our waitress wasn’t very good. Getting looks from everyone around, I hushed up and scurried my kids out of IHOP and back in to our car.
There I explained that during the Holidays it’s important to tip big because it’s the time of year when just about everyone could use extra money, even a little extra. Of course my philosophical 11 year old son reasoned that I should then keep the extra for myself. Or better yet give it to him. I explained that by giving a bigger than usual tip, it was my way of giving thanks for our blessings and being gracious that I didn’t have to cook or clean up for that one meal.
Now every year about this time, we tend to revisit a variation of the same conversation, and with each year the kids understanding and agreeing more and more. Finally this Holiday season my children not only got it, they one upped me and participated.
I run a little Facebook page called 101 Places to Eat in McKinney, TX (https://www.Facebook.com/McKinneyTXFoodCritic). It’s my way of sharing the good, the bad and the downright great places to dine at here in McKinney. I love food and I’m highly critical so it’s the perfect combination. So just last night me and the kids wanted to check out Sicily’s Pizza & Pasta. You can read my thoughts on said Facebook page.
During dinner, we are all discussing what’s on everyone’s Christmas Wish List, which friends and teachers they are buying for, etc. Typical family dinner discussion more or less. When we were getting up to leave, I realized I didn’t have but a few bucks cash for the tip. My son volunteered to pay the tip for me, and I allowed as he growing in to a man and it was very thoughtful of him to offer.
As I was at the counter paying for our dinner, I noticed that not only had my son laid down his money, but my youngest daughter was putting a few bucks on the table as well. Then my middle child was pulling money from her purse, too. As they walked over, I asked my son if he didn’t have enough cash for the tip and he replied, “Yeah, of course. But’s it’s Christmas!” And although I held back tears of joy I was beaming like the North Star on the inside. It was a proud moment for this Momma, to say the least. My kiddos got it.
It’s Christmas and tipping more than usual is giving thanks. So the next time you and your family are out to dinner, remember that your waiter is working during the Holidays, probably more so than normal and that giving thanks is more important than perfect service. You have no idea how a few extra bucks here and there can change someone’s situation for the better.