There are days when I feel I would not be an ideal mother. There are days when small children, particularly small children who are misbehaving or being loud, really bug me to death.
I confessed this to my friend Julie, who has two small boys of her own. Julie told me I am not crazy or weird to feel this way. “Even when you’re a mom,” she explained. “You will still find other people’s children annoying, whiny, and just plain irritating.”
I appreciated her validation beyond words, because I was starting to feel like a rotten person.
The truth of the matter is that I like well-behaved kids. There I said it. I have been in the presence of well-behaved children, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know their unique view on the world.
Now, I know I have no room to talk when it comes to parenting and raising children. I don’t have any, so I speak not from the voice of experience.
I can, however, speak from the voice of a normal person just trying to enjoy a meal out.
Today, my husband took me out for a nice lunch at Olive Garden. We’ve both been super busy this week, so all we wanted to do was sit back, relax, and talk. We were seated in front of a young couple with a young daughter.
If this child had a volume button, it was stuck on LOUD. Her parents made several efforts to shush her, and then (instead of leaving which we all wanted them to do – which would have been the right thing – the polite thing – to do) just gave up and let the child shriek. Here is a replay of the conversation:
“Shh, honey, what?”
“PUT ME DOWN! I WANT DADDY TO HOLD ME!”
“Okay, go around the table to Daddy.”
“I thought you wanted Daddy to hold you.”
“NOOOOOOOOOO! I WANT YOU TO HOLD ME.”
“But I am holding you honey.”
“I WANT DADDY TO HOLD ME!”
(extremely loud grunting as child tries to escape mother’s grasp)
“Honey, come out from under the table.”
“Did you just say ‘no’ to Daddy?”
“YESSSSSSSSSS! NOOOOOOOOOO TO DADDY!
“You shouldn’t say ‘no’ to Daddy.”
“That’s not being very nice, honey. Come out from under the table, please?
“I WANT YOU TO HOLD ME!”
“Okay, just come out from under the table.”
“OKAY! ICE CREAM NOW!”
“Okay, you can have some ice cram. Miss! Miss! Can we have some ice cream?
“ICE CREAM NOW! ICE CREAM NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW!
“Honey, we have to wait for the waitress to come back.”
Well, it just went on and on like that. Brett and I could hardly hear ourselves think, let alone talk. And I saw other diners giving them the stink eye. Although they seemed oblivious.
I think the right thing to do would have been to leave once they realized they couldn’t keep their daughter under control. Or, in anticipation, they should have not brought their daughter to a nice place like Olive Garden. They would have been infinitely more comfortable (as would the rest of us) if they’d visited a McDonald’s Play Land instead.
The Olive Garden is a nice place, not just the food and service, also the atmosphere. This, in my opinion, doesn’t mean having to strain over the noise from yelling children, just to hear the dinner specials.
Okay, I get it. Kids don’t always behave. I’m sure I didn’t all the time either, although I’m pretty sure my parents would have put the kibosh on a restaurant scene like that. However, why do I have to pay for parents’ inability to discipline or control their children? I didn’t have the kids. Why am I being punished, you know?
It’s SO frustrating. Mainly because you know what you’re “supposed” to do. You’re supposed to look like, “Oh, gosh! Too bad! Hey, it’s okay. Did somebody miss naptime? They’re just kids being kids. Children are so precious. Gosh, are they CUTE! Please continue to ruin my dinner. It’s okay. It’s not like I paid a lot of money for a relaxing meal with my husband. What’s that, dear? Oh, of course, she can spit macaroni at me! Whatever could be wrong with that?”
When all I do is sit there, building up a good head of steam, wanting to turn around and say “PLEASE CONTROL YOUR CHILD!”
It is so unbelievably unfair.
Anyway, now for some against-the-stereotype casting, shortly after we were seated, another family with a young daughter were seated in front of us. Their daughter was the same age as the mewling little monster behind us. SHE was a perfect angel all throughout the meal. The contrast was so stark I was tempted to go to their table and congratulate THEM on their daughter’s behavior.
I just DO NOT understand how some parents don’t understand the basic rules of politeness. I don’t ruin THEIR meal, so they should have the courtesy NOT to ruin mine (and everyone else in hearing distance).
Huff, Huff….now I feel like the big, bad witch. But it’s the truth.
Still, I guess I’d better watch out for falling houses.