On its face, the question seems pretty straightforward. But given more than a moment's thought, however, what are really talking about?

As someone who spent more than 10 years in Special Education, I've been humbled by little peoples' challenging behaviors more times than I can recall. From managing run-of-the-mill toddler temper-tantrums as a preschool teacher, to helping teenagers deescalate from the throws of an emotional crisis, I've been around the school yard when it comes to behavior management.

When I first set out on the journey of motherhood, I fancied myself as more prepared than many. Ha! While that was true in some ways, it was anything but in many other ways. Like teaching, I believe parenting is one of the most honorable ministries a person can commit to. And without question, it's also one of the most exhuasting.

Kids throw parents some of life's most wicked curve balls. Bedtime defiance, dental hygiene avoidance, and public meltdowns are a typical Tuesday for droves of us in the business of raising babies. It happens. Kids are kids. No matter how diligent we are in our efforts to teach our babes healthy behaviors and good social skills, they come unhinged like anyone else. Sometimes it's an afternoon nap gone awry. Other times it's the bump in their sock that set them off. The catalyst for the meltdown is irrelevant. Once a kid skyrockets into meltdown mode, it's an all hands on-deck affair.

Whether you've experienced it once with your own kid or a thousand times over, almost all of us get it. Parenting isn't for the faint of heart. In the context of a kid's world-class breakdown in a restaurant on Friday night, it's even more intense. Listen, we get it. No one, no matter how many kids they've raised, wants to hear someone's three-year-old lose it and disrupt our first night out in months. But try thinking about it this way: neither do their parents. Adding insult to their injury are the judgmental sighs and high-brow stares they absorb during the episode. Imagine doing your best to calm your child down in the midst of a meltdown. A few moments in, a restaurant manager approaches you and tells you to exit the establishment. Humiliated as you begin the walk of shame towards the door, you're struck by the memory of wishing this same fate onto another struggling parent and child. Mortifying.

So parents, the next time you hear a kid losing it while you're out to dinner, maybe try a little harder to exercise compassion and understanding. Remember, today's it's their kid. But tomorrow could be yours.

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