Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parental Hazing, Part 2

I believe we have officially entered The Toddler Years. And some friends have assured me that the Terrible starts before 2. I would like to go on record as saying, “I agree.” Last night, Isabelle and I dropped my best friend Rachel, her husband Mark, and son, Abraham off at the airport (We’ll talk more about that visit tomorrow).

On the way there, Isabelle had been working on perfecting her scream. You know the one. It’s where she opens her mouth and there are two seconds of nothing before the extremely loud and high pitched sound exits her mouth. I think the first two seconds are at a decibel only dogs can hear.

After she fitfully fell asleep and the airport drop was completed, we went downtown to meet Conrad and get some dinner. We have one of those great entertainment books where you “buy one, get one free” at half of the restaurants in town. We used to go out to eat and share a meal, now we each get our own, spend the same amount of money, and now eat twice as much. Good times.

So, we choose a trendy little Scottish bar type restaurant in the Short North area. Our thought was people drinking beer are loud. So they won’t be so sensitive to a toddler’s babble? I mean, come on, people drinking martini’s are quiet, not beer. Right?

So, with our logic firmly in place, we woke Isabelle up and took her in. But, as soon as we put her in the highchair, she let out one of those (now famous) high pitched screams. The music stopped. The forks went down. The talking stopped. And everyone looked in our direction, rolled their eyes, and thought, “Great, there goes my nice dinner. Why do people take children like that out in public?”

Before I go on, I should admit. I have been one of those people. I have thought those thoughts. I have rolled my eyes and wondered the same thing. What goes around, truly does come around….

Now, I calmly pick up my back-arched-mad-about-God-only-knows-what child and head out side. Now I am standing on the street in the Short North, as people pass by me, thinking the same things. And I, modern American parent, am in a dilemma. I cannot spank my child, someone is likely to call children’s services and take her away from us! I cannot let her throw a fit, NO one wants that. I can’t even go to the car with her, because it’s around the corner in a dark alley, and the keys are back in the restaurant.

So I have a stern chat with her (which goes completely over her head), praying under my breath for some kind of wisdom beyond my years, and she slowly calms down. I take her back in, where we quickly finish our meal, and determine to stick to suburban kid friendly (a.k.a LOUD) restaurants or HOME until WE learn to control our child.

All in a days work for parenting, I suppose…


drowninginblessing said...

Hi D. We miss you guys and Isabelle already! Abe had a meltdown last night and today too. Too much excitement I guess (and he seems to have a small fever and gas problems). I will admit when his cries soared I had to thank the Lord he hasn't discovered his "shriek cry." Praying Belle will settle soon. RM

Wendy said...

Don't worry about that stuff Danielle. Yes, it's all in a day of parenting pretty much. I'd say you handled the situation great. And in my opinion, kids are never too young to benefit from a stern conversation. But I've got a couple of tricks that I use for Levi~
1. I always bring snacks. (vanilla wafers, fig newtons, crackers etc)
2. I like to stash a couple of toys away secretly in my purse. I let him open the purse and 'find' his toys in mama's purse. He loves it.
3. I give him something from the table. The disposable coasters work great (as opposed to the salt or pepper shakers).
4. As a last resort I give him something he normally isn't allowed to have like my lip gloss or sunglasses.
Don't be afraid to ask the hostess to seat you near other families. Just don't stop going out. Eventually she'll get the hang of it and so will you! :)

Angie said...

The FUN begins!!!

Michelle said...

They out grow it, I promise. Here's some of the tactics I have used over the years, maybe they will help:
1. I let my children know exactly what I expect before we enter the restaurant (I started early).
2. I rotated the best I could in the early years with restaurants. Meaning one time we would go to a more grown up restaurant, and the next time we would go to kid places. (Kid places would be where they would bring crayons out to the table, or play places)This helped a lot. If the place had a play place, or arcade, etc. they would have to eat their meal first. This gave me a great chance to teach them about waiting for food, good behavior etc.
3. DO NOT stop going out. Eventually they learn the etiquette of dining out.

Anonymous said...

Hi, DP! First, I have done and still do most of Wendy and Michelle's tricks. Although the one thing I will say is that we do not take the kids to nicer, adult restaurants. We find that when they misbehave (and most of the time they still do) we end up wolfing down our meals and wonder why we spent so much money on a meal we don't even remember eating. Nice adult meals are saved for when we have a sitter or when we put the kids to bed a smidge early and eat a late dinner which is usually take-out from a nice restaurant (Lindy's, Brio, Martini, etc.)

When we take the kids out, we usually go to a Mexican restaurant like El Vaquero or Las Margaritas because the service is super fast. Before they can even think about eating all of the chips in the basket (which is another great distraction and a treat they don't often get at home) the food is there. :-)


Emily Jade said...

LOL...we call that scream a "homing device for bats"!!!

Two's aren't that bad in the grand scheme of things...however horrible it feels, the "lawing down the law" really starts there. I think that it's WAY harder on the parents to set the boundries than it is for the wee ones to learn them! Best of luck!!