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My “Before I Had Kids” Story.

13 December 2010 10 Comments

BornFree Canada posted an intriguing question on their fan page awhile back: “Before you had kids, did you judge parents?”

Um….yes we did. But it was more based on dining experiences.

On Sundays we’d go in the late afternoon have our round of Caesars and read the paper and/or magazines. Around 4pm families would come pouring in and it got loud very quickly. There would be screaming, crying, newborns to toddlers there were kids everywhere…..in a PUB! Our Sunday afternoon got interrupted quite abruptly and I’d give the parents a dirty look and think to myself “good god, go home!” especially when they weren’t doing anything to stop them. Mom and dad would go upon their conversation as if they were at home while their child had a tantrum.

Fast forward 3 years later and now we’re the ones taking our baby (now tot) to restaurants and pubs. We get it. We vowed we’d never be those parents. We are. We need to get out. Hire a sitter? Who? Family? They are all in Winnipeg, MB.

However…..Charlie is pretty good in a restaurant. He’s been in them since he was three months old as my husband runs a pub and whenever he fussed on the breast he’d just fall asleep. He’d wake look around and then suckle again. He wasn’t loud or wild at all. Now we were the ones getting dirty looks. He wasn’t even making a peep but people in general don’t want to see infants in pub/restaurant settings. As long as an establishment has highchairs and a change station in the loo, in my opinion kids are welcome.

There was a time when Charlie was in that in-between phase of 18-22 months when it would be impossible to take him out. High pitched screams just for his own amusement, he’d have this amazed look on his face at the sound he was making. Crayons, menus, colouring books were flying in every direction and if he ever acted up we would pack our things and get out as fast as possible. Sometimes we’ve had to cancel our order or get it to go.

Why didn’t we stay like the other parents in my above complaint?

Because we don’t want to “burden” other peoples dining experience. It is just polite and so what if we have to cut it short? People need to realize it’s not cute, not everyone will think your child is great and well….just go home.

Just recently we went to a going away party and there were toddlers. One of my friends was standing with her husband, her son was next to Charlie. Charlie was playing with a balloon (always keep one handy for emergencies) and really behaving really well. Their kid was using the menu to push the salt and pepper shaker off the table. They were watching him do it yet not stopping him, let alone take the menu away. I grab the shakers as they are about to fall off and tell them “Why aren’t you stopping him?”, their response “He’s just gonna keep doing it”. Ummm….what?!

My point with this is you just can’t let your child do what ever they want in public and at a restaurant. Yes they will have tantrums. Try to stop it by distracting them. Toddlers do understand. So am I judging them. Yes. Especially when they complain on how bad he behaves in public.

Why are parents afraid of discipline? Is because they are afraid what people will think when they shake that finger and say “No!”. I’m not. If Charlie’s bad in public, I will shake my finger and say “No!”. If he needs to learn he needs to learn then and there. When he’s having a freak out I divert it by tickling him and reaching into my diaper bag for an emergency toy or balloon. Once he’s calmed down which takes a minute or two I talk to him. He makes the face when I tell him his behavior in unacceptable, I might get a little whine but he’s gets it.

I think adults really under estimate what kids grasp. I’m sorry I don’t have a liberal way of looking at things and I don’t think kids in adult settings should do whatever they want just because the parent doesn’t want to be embarrassed by the wailing and crying.

Erica Ashmore is a blogger, entrepreneur and member of the BornFree Mom Panel

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10 Comments »

  • Leslie McCurrach said:

    I totally relate to this! We definitely go home if our 3 month old can’t handle being in a restaurant. It’s only fair to the other patrons – and sometimes to the kid. I don’t know how many toddlers or young kids having tantrums or crying in public – and looking totally exhausted to boot. Sometimes you just have to put your sleepy (and often cranky) kid first and go home so he or she can sleep.

  • leslie said:

    My take is try it out and see. I mean there is always going to be an occasion that will come up. I always try and prepare my two oldest girls who are almost 2 and a half and almost 5. I go over the manners and the appropriate things we should do at a restaurant. I know kids cant always be perfect.

    I also bring some books…maybe a little snack to tied them over well we wait for our food. The two usually colour. I do the same though as above though. I let them know if their behaviour is acceptable or not or I also threating to go and wait in the car. Usually works. I do believe though parents shouldnt ignore the behavior in this case or it will worsen. Sometimes I just go with the approach of just telling them like it is. If we do not behave then we just wont get to do these fun activities and they understand and smarten up.

    I guess every parent is different. I just try and explain everything to my kids, beacause I feel without that and repetition how can they remember it all sometimes because I know we adults can’t always remember everything either :)

  • Sarah Ahmad said:

    I think every parent can relate to this article. I have a 4 year old too and she is pretty well behaved in restaurants. When she gives us trouble I try and take a time out with her and it works. Kids need to be taught how to behave in certain environments. Obviously it is not reasonable to expect a baby or even a toddler to understand all rules but kids older than 3 are smart enough to understand the rules and have good manners when they accompany their parents to eat out. If the kid is acting up and won’t stop it is time to leave! Take a toy or some other distraction to keep them busy while waiting for the food. We always try and go to a kid friendly restaurant whenever possible. If things still don’t work out it is definitely time to get take out and go home.

  • Karen said:

    We always tried to take toys or things our toddler girl had never seen before or didn’t get to play with often (crayons, cards, a little pack of play-doh) to occupy her for at least a few minutes at a time. when she was almost 2, we gave her one of those packets of peanut butter to play with & she broke it open & was covered in the stuff! we started freaking out cause she hadn’t had it yet & my brother has a bad peanut allergy. Happy to say she was fine. Her late 3′s and early 4′s were not restaurant friendly- not wanting to sit still, laying under the table on the floor etc but we did attempt to keep her at bay, we didn’t let her do whatever she wanted. Sometimes my husband & I even had to take turns eating alone to go sit with her in the car if she was really getting out of control on those rare occasions. I am understanding of other parents but do judge them when they don’t say anything to their kids whatsoever. The kids need to be told and not let to run wild. Now with a 7 month old & my daughter turning 5, we generally head to any restaurant with crayons :)

  • Veronik said:

    I always thought that kids in restaurant can be accepted when it’s a family restaurant. When we bring our daughter, we always bring her a new toy she can play with and discover while we eat. It’s always been a fun experience every time we went. She usually giggles and has fun. I think that people without kids can easily judge but when you decide to have children, you should bring them along since they are now part of your life.

  • Scotula said:

    My son is only 6 months old and I almost dread taking him out to restaurants and parties at other peoples houses. It’s like your kids know just when they should scream and make a big fuss to embarass you. Before having children it didn’t really bother me to see other families with loud children. I am a teacher and I love kids and know their behaviours and I would feel bad for some parents when they got the “looks” from others. Now I get the looks when my son is screaming because he wants out of his car seat or he doesn’t know his surroundings. I have to admit that I try my best to calm him down and it’s at times like this I wish I had a pacifier but my mother in law is against them and because she’s always around she refuses to let me use it. I still stay. I figure the more exposure he gets to being out in public, the better. As he gets older I’ll make sure to go over what I expect, offer rewards like positive reinforcement through praises and stickers, and practice dramatization of going out to a restaurant at home. I would also bring his favourite books and toys.

  • maggie k said:

    My seven month old has recently started getting more interested in his surroundings. I find that if we pay attention to him he can usually last a whole meal out, but I have to say there have been many meals of my husband and I taking turns holding him while the other one eats. For the most part I really don’t care what other people think. I don’t want my son to cry not because I don’t want to disturb other people but rather I know that when he cries something is wrong and at seven months it is still easy to fix and make him happy.

  • Lori said:

    Oh Judge away pre-baby – and now, well we get it as we have been there.

    We do eat out a lot but it is often at places that we know are going to have quick service or at least quick appetizers. I often feel bad because we are rushing the server for the bill but there is a very short window with a toddler and so when the food is gone, often is the attention.

  • gurpreet said:

    It was a very different life before but now its really busy with my 5 months old twin baby boys. I use to watch T.V. sometimes for hours, chat with my friends, go shopping some time for a whole day, use to be in the bath tub for an hour.

  • konderlashan said:

    Index of /pt

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