A Light Switch When you go to a restaurant by yourself you can either take something with you or you can find something in the restaurant to occupy your time. Restaurants are full of people having conversations and it is hard not overhear some of the conversations. One young family entertained me the whole evening. It was a husband and wife with their young son. The couple were in their early 20s and the boy was probably three or four. He was being a typical boy and squirming in his chair and running around the table.

The first episode occurred after the waitress brought out the drinks. I was working on some notes when I heard a small commotion. I glanced over and noticed the son had spilled his drink. There were two different responses from the parents. The mother over-reacted and couldn’t believe her son would be careless enough to spill his drink. The father simply looked at him and then got him out of the chair. Since the boy was covered in soda, the father took his son to the restroom.

The next interesting episode occurred a few minutes later.  The two returned to the table with the father laughing. He relates the story that as they entered the restroom his son noticed the light switch. “What does this do,” he asked his father as he switched it off. The father went on to tell that as the room went pitch black he heard a man from one of the stalls yell out. At this point, a horrified look appeared on the mother’s face.  She asked her son if this is what he did. The boy just smiled devilishly and shook his head. His father laughed the entire time. The mother shot her husband a look as if to say, “Don’t encourage this type of behavior.”

I came away from the episode with a few observations. One, the father had not grown up yet. When the waitress came out with a rag after the soda was spilled, the father simply stepped out of the way instead of taking the rag to clean up the mess himself. Also, in regards to the light switch incident, he shouldn’t have shown so much enjoyment out of the story in front of his son. Granted, it was a funny story but he should have waited to laugh with his wife about it later. The father’s actions had a direct link to the mother’s reactions. Because the father was being passive in just these small ways, she over-reacted and came off as the mother that wouldn’t allow any fun.

It just shows that in a relationship, when one person is not fulfilling their role, things go wrong. Many times the other person will take over both sets of responsibilities, because they don’t want things to fail. So one person is doing all the work and the resentment shows up in their actions and words. Sadly, this will fester for years and will lead to dysfunctional and even broken marriages and families.