B-Minus Parenting

Taking Johnny places, these days, is a crap-shoot.

I pine for the days when he would accompany us to Free State, happy to loll in his infant seat and linger while we had a long lunch.

Now, having a meal at a restaurant is often akin to putting a mountain lion in a high chair and asking it to have a civil meal. I mean, he does okay for awhile, but eventually that mountain lion needs to get up and move around, and he doesn't really care if Mommy is finishing her last four french fries.

Still, we are committed to keep on keeping on, because we will go insane if we never go anywhere on the weekends. Mama doesn't want to cook every single meal we ever eat. And, probably most importantly, we think he needs the practice. If we never take him to a restaurant because it's "too hard" it will only get worse.

I have the same theory about babysitters. I think it's a good thing for us to get a babysitter once in awhile and leave him at home with that person for an evening. If we didn't, he's be a hot mess when we finally had to. I make it a point to ask someone to come over in the evening at least every couple of months, even if we just go to the store or out for one cocktail.

Saturday is the Fire in the Hole BBQ competition at the Eagles Lodge (benefitting Visting Nurses and cases of children who are diagnosed with "Failure to Thrive"). I have the distinct pleasure of being a judge at said event, so I'll be there for a lot of the day. I know a lot of other kids and parents we know will be there, so I asked my husband if he'd bring Johnny up to play after his nap, and I saw the pained expression on his face. "Uhm, it hasn't been that fun to take him places, lately."

I reminded him that at this thing, he can run around and not be confined to a high chair. And there will be other little kids, which always seems to help the situation. Plus, there's a quarter cake walk. That boy needs to win his mama a freaking cupcake!

The challenges of being a parent are never-ending. When you aren't a parent, you see a couple with a kid screaming at the table, and you think "Why in the world would you bring your baby here?" Or you see the dad walking down Massachusetts with his kid on a leash, and think "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD." Now, I look longingly at said leash, wondering if it might be just the tool for getting him through this barbeque on Saturday. And I sympathize with the mom whose kid is screaming and throwing quesadilla bits at the neighboring table. "I get it, people," I think. "The game is now about survival." My friend Lulu once said there are times in parenting when we just have to be okay with a B-minus.

My kid might get a B-minus at the BBQ on Saturday. I might be getting a B-minus for not somehow better training him in how to behave in a restaurant. But at 20 months, he's not exactly a rational being. So B-minus is pretty good. It means he is still alive, and he's managed to get four bites of chicken finger in his mouth before the rest became a hat.


Rae Hudspeth 7 years, 4 months ago

I think a 20 month old is doing well with Basic German Shephard.. you know.. "sit" "stay" "hush".
They only last so long at that in public, and restaurants are hard, I realize. I'm glad you're the mom who takes the little one away rather than subjecting the staff and other customers to a bored and unruly toddler. that, to me, deserves the A+.

jestevens 7 years, 4 months ago

I laughed out loud at the last line of your post, Megan. You're right -- at that age, they just don't get it. Their little brains and nervous systems aren't set up yet to absorb the rules of restaurant etiquette. At least they can become familiar with the environment, just as they become familiar with other caregivers in their lives.

He's doing fine and so are you.

Erin Graham 7 years, 4 months ago

I've got a very active 7 month old.. He has to keep on the go constantly. He generally does well in public for a while. But the more he's learning to move (which this past week has included learning to stand on his own.. meaning guess who doesn't like to sit.. at all.. anymore!), the more difficult it's becoming... THANK YOU for writing this!!! :)

Aileen Dingus 7 years, 4 months ago

Get the leash. Seriously. If people give you the stink eye because of it, let THEM try to corral a toddler in a crowded space.

Good on you and Todd for exposing Johnny to things early, before you NEED to. Babysitters, restaurants, crowds. The boy will be well prepared for later toddler-hood and childhood in that respect, and eventually it'll be fun again. I promise. :)

Megan Green Stuke 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, all, for the feedback. Aileen, I'm seriously considering that leash. No foolin'.

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