Picture disclosure: this was taken at home, on another night, were we had a tantrum over who-knows-what.
Here’s what happened:
We are sitting down at a restaurant trying to have a nice family meal when my toddler starts screaming her head off because she can’t stand to sit in the high chair another minute.
Here’s what she does:
We try soothing her for about 30 seconds, no success. And it’s embarrassing because half the restaurant is looking our way. We don’t want to take her out of the chair because we’re barely on our appetizer and that means one of us we’ll eat our meal with her in our lap. She’s halfway up already, moving her arms from one of us to the other, hoping we’ll believe her crocodile tears. She knows we’re about to cave, so she turns up her volume, arches her back, and stiffens her legs.
Here’s what we did (my husband is the biggest softy of the two):
We stare at each other, both thinking we’re that annoying family that is disturbing all the couples having quiet date nights. I smile the “I told you so” smile because I had warned him before we left the house that maybe it was too late and we should order in. But really, that’s unnecessary and I know it, so I laugh and wait for his move. At this point we’ve already tried bribing her with our phones (that entertained her for a few minutes) and her toys (those are now littered around the table, ignored). He smiles back and with a sigh reaches for the little noisemaker who is now standing on the seat of the high chair screaming her head off and reaching for him like the seat is about to go up in flames. The minute she’s in his arms the screaming stops, the tears dry up, and she smiles at us both with a look that clearly shows she won this round. If you’re wondering why she’s not tied down, we always tie her but she learned how to untie herself and after trying for 20 minutes, managed it.
We eat with her taking turn on our laps. No more crying at dinner that night.
Happy baby = quiet dinner. But at what expense? Are we encouraging her disruptive behavior by allowing her to manipulate us that way? I tell myself she’s still too little to really understand…but she’s almost two. What’s the right age to start explaining things to her? How do I tell her things in public without embarrassing her or myself but still getting my point across? It seems it would be easy, but it’s not, at least not for me. Am I that permissive parent that other moms avoid because I can’t control my kid? Jeez, who ever said it was easy and things like these would come naturally was not raising a toddler when that was said. At a place like Disney world, where every other toddler/baby is screaming/crying/fuzzing, it’s no big but what about at regular places like Cheesecake Factory or Olive Garden? Easy. Yea. Right. Sure.
I found an article that I’m sharing below but it seems their suggestion is we dine early. I can appreciate that but we’re not early diners. It’s on normal nights, either at home or out, that I can’t seem to find a way to keep her in that high chair, regardless of the time. The older she gets the better she is at slithering her way out of that seat. We can certainly get a sitter for special nights or go out to dinner early. I’m really hoping those are not my only options. I’m wishing someone has the miracle answer (or something that worked for them) so that we can dine when we want, with our toddler in-tow, and in relative peace – or as much peace as any toddler allows 🙂 Are there any parents out there that can please share thoughts on what I (we) can try? Until what age did you toddler tolerate the high chair? Should we switch to a booster seat, maybe?
Final disclosure: I absolutely love my toddler and want her with me 24/7. But I work. So after work, I want her with me all the time. I don’t care that she wants to sit in my lap and most nights she does – even if I have to eat one handed. But I want her to be respectful, too. I wanted/needed to vent a little….other moms are welcome to vent on here if they want/need 🙂
Photo credit: my camera, my picture 🙂
- Your Waitress as Judge and Jury (2under1.wordpress.com)
- Breastfeeding a toddler ~ Northernmum (northernmum.com)
- 4 Things Every Family Restaurant Should Have (wailingsofaworkathomemom.wordpress.com)
- On the Subject of Toddler Beds (iamaimeediego.com)
- Parenting dilemma: should you make your child eat what’s on their plate? (telegraph.co.uk)