"You know, Babe", began the Machinist. "You can tell the good parents. You can tell who puts great effort into their children, and those that don't. I'm not saying they don't love their children - ..."
"I know what you are saying. I know what you mean.."
"See that mother over there, with the two girls? I saw her give both of them the 'nod'. It was the 'time to go' nod. The girls made their way to the table, and mother directed them to put their shoes on. They got up, and started to run towards the exit. She told them not to run, and they immediately slowed down, waiting for her to catch up. And the best thing about it, they didn't complain or whine, and they seemed content. They obviously felt secure".
As the Machinist was telling me this, there was shrieking and shouting in the background. We were on our last dregs of coffee, and about to leave.
Father passed by, slouching over a full shopping cart. At least twenty steps behind him was Mother, struggling with a wriggling, shrieking toddler under her arm. An older child was walking next to her whining at pitch. Yet another child was running - ahead of Father and the trolley. Then back to Mother, banging into tables and chairs (and other patrons) as he ran. When this happened, the mother would give that 'kids. What can you do?' look.
And all the time, neither parent communicated with each other, or the children.