While waiting in line for a pancake house, a man with greasy, grey hair and a sunken-in mouth pushed his way through the backdoor of the kitchen.
I held Baby Brother, who is now quite a big two-year old, in my arms and Daddy Longlegs pulled Little Legs close to him.
“Something tells me that guy isn’t supposed to be in there,” I said.
Little Legs yanked Baby Brother’s shoe off. Baby Brother kicked him in the face and Little Legs started to cry. Obviously, we didn’t have the time to speculate long on the unwanted guest in the house of pancakes.
We went back to making observations about the length of the line, the weather, and trying to keep the boys from bumping into people around us with their wrestling.
Suddenly, the kitchen door swung back open and the grey haired man flew through the air, landing on the sidewalk. The cook, a man in a white apron with a backwards ball-cap, stood in the doorway with his arms crossed.
“You ain’t welcome here,” the cook said.
“You can’t tell me where to go,” the man said.
He grabbed the top of the trashcan and threw it to the ground, not unlike a certain set of boys, in an adult-style tantrum. The weight of the lid surprised the man, and it didn’t go far, landing next to his feet. Returning to his rampage, the man snatched the hat from the cook’s head.
The manager of establishment appeared, a woman with frizzy, blonde hair and black pants.
She said, “You gotta go,” and thumbed the air.
The man threw the hat down and grumbled something at her. He puffed his malnourished chest up at her like a sick rooster.
She planted her feet firmly in the ground and said, “I am not afraid of you.”
Another kitchen staffer arrived on the scene with a four-foot-long wooden stick, wrapped with white tape. He held it in one hand as he approached, prepared for battle.
“I don’t need this,” the man said, eying the weapon and the growing crowd of kitchen staff.
The man shoved his way through the line of onlooking, prospective pancake eaters.
While this was happening, I slowly crept backwards, carrying Baby Brother and pulling Daddy Longlegs and Little Legs along with me, not wanting to draw attention to our retreat.
In this open-carry state, it would take one vigilante of justice to pull out a gun and fire shots. I was not interested in one of us catching a stray bullet or trashcan lid as the two sides waged a breakfast war.
That night, Daddy Longlegs asked Little Legs, “Did you have any questions about what happened today?”
Little Legs nodded, “Why did Mommy run away and make us leave?”
And now I have questions. Am I a total wimp? (Yes) Should we have stayed? (No) How do I teach my boys to be brave in a safe way? (Still unsure but accepting any and all advice.)