I was sitting in a booth at our favorite breakfast spot, Perkins with my wife Susan and I noticed a little boy in a tank top, shorts, a stocking cap, and cowboy boots. Usually, this wouldn’t draw my attention, but this is Minnesota, it’s January – Winter is Here…it’s cold outside, very cold.

I’m trying not to judge here, but I was wondering why his parents didn’t dress this child for the winter weather like his older sister was. I gave it a “huh” and finished my breakfast.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we are in Duluth, MN taking care of our grandkids, Evelyn age 5 and Sweet Baby James age 3. Everything they say about being a grandparent is true; it is an absolute joy. That is until I am in charge of getting James dressed for the day. I pick out a pair of corduroys, and he wants nothing to do with them, it’s orange capris. I pick out his Bernstein Bear sweater, he wants nothing to do with it, and he picks out his Thomas the Train T-shirt.

I try to reason with James explaining that it is 10 degrees above zero, cold enough to get your tongue stuck on a flag pole. James isn’t buying it. I try to divert attention with my “towel and make my watch disappear” trick. He has seen it, no big deal. I warned him, moving our interaction to a level 5 – and told him he HAS to dress for cold weather. We are going outside, and insisted that he put his Bernstein Bear sweater on or we are not going to Perkins for Mickey Mouse pancakes!

He runs out of the room to a higher court, Nana. James makes his case to Judge Nana, batting his baby blue eyes and con man smile. She smiles, tells him to put on his warm coat, boots, mittens and Vikings hat so we can go to Perkins.

Now I know why some kids wear shorts and a t-shirt at Perkins in cold weather. Nana knows the battles that matter and the skirmishes that don’t.

When we see parents with their kids, instead of jumping to judgment, know that you don’t know the back story. Raising healthy children is one of the most demanding jobs in the world. Give the parents a smile, a word of encouragement and an acknowledgment of their efforts.