A Dining Disaster Turned Lesson In Parenting
I could have pulled my hair out. Literally. I was soooo close to losing my cool. I didn’t know what to do. I watched in horror as my almost three year old daughter threw her food on the floor. I sat restlessly in my seat watching my son chew with his mouth open, belch, and make a mess. These could not be the children I raised. I did better than this didn’t I?
Now you may ask yourself why I didn’t go into my usual mommy-mode of telling them to knock if off or give them a time out. The reason is I wasn’t at home. I was out for lunch at a local restaurant with two other moms from my son’s school and their children. I was trying to make a good impression, but at this point I wasn’t just domestically challenged, I was mommy challenged as well.
After a few embarrassing incidents including my son giving me the ultimate attitude I had enough. I didn’t care what the proper way of dealing with my children was in public. I started issuing his punishment right there to my son’s surprise. My son immediately perked up at the sound of no tablet for a week and improved his act. I apologized for the way my children were acting and assured my fellow diners that this is not how my children usually behave. Which is true! I then proceeded to take my daughter to the washroom, clean her up, and do a little pleading. “Mommy knows you can act better than this. Please show me what a big girl you are.” We returned to the table and I had to laugh inside. Now my son was well-behaved and the other children seemed to have had enough. No longer were my children being bratty it was the other children acting less than ideal for the remainder of lunch.
I watched as the other moms gave warnings and disciplined their children without a second thought. They continued on lunching, talking and laughing without their children’s misbehavior becoming the focus or ruining the meal. I could definitely take a lesson in calm, cool and collected from these women. As lunch came to an end I realized I was worried less about what my children were doing and was simply enjoying myself. So really this was a lesson in turning a dining disaster into a simple dining experience with children. Obviously this wasn’t my first time dining with my children in a restaurant, but it was one of the first times I was trying to fit in with a new group of moms. Watching them handle their children with ease showed me that it is not about having a ‘perfect’ meal out with impeccably behaved children, that is never going to happen. It is all about how you react. It is not your children’s fault when they don’t act like mini-adults at dinner. They are kids and will act up sometimes. This doesn’t mean that you should allow your children to act out and misbehave without consequences, but you should adjust your expectations.
I know now for next time (which is next week!) to not feel embarrassed when my children act like children. Every time out will give me an opportunity to tweak my parenting techniques, but I will not expect a miracle. Kids have minds of their own, you can not force them to act a certain way. Instead you need to roll with the punches and laugh… that is parenting isn’t it. Learning as we go. If another mom would judge you for how your kids behave, they are not the type of mom friends you want anyways. You need to find other mothers who can share in your struggles and celebrate your accomplishments in parenting. Surround yourself with people who understand life happens, and at lunch it can get a bit messy… especially if you have kids.
How do you handle your children when they misbehave in public? Any tips to share?