Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tea time

I’m convinced if you really want to test your parenting skills, take a toddler on the verge of the “terrible twos” to a restaurant. Then tell them they have to sit still.

I used to be amazed at how good Ladybug was when we’d eat out. Sure, she’d do the typical toddler acts – like empty her entire bowl of Cheerios on the floor – but as far as behavior went, she was impeccable. So when boredom struck earlier this week, my husband and I didn’t think twice about going to Copeland’s for a late lunch.

It started as a day to remember when the waitress arrived at our table with a booster seat instead of the usual high chair. It was the first time Ladybug would sit side by side with us at the table. And, after that meal, it looks like it will be the last for a long, long time.

Usually we prep Ladybug before she experiences something new. We tell her what to expect and talk her through it as she tries it. But for some reason, I just plopped her in the booster seat, told her to sit up straight, and continued to talk to my husband. I didn’t think anymore of it as our meal arrived since Ladybug was quiet as she absorbed the surroundings.

And then out of nowhere, a foot flew above my plate and into my iced tea. The glass fell over and tea poured into my lap, where Ladybug had thrown herself. We were both dripping wet and not getting any dryer as the ice started to melt and soak through my underwear. Then Ladybug began screaming and slipped down my legs and under the table in an effort to escape into the aisle. All the while, my husband was lifting and shifting plates so the waiter, who was maneuvering around me and Ladybug like some warped game of Restaurant Twister, could sop up the mess.

I took Ladybug outside, sat her on a bench and got down to look her in the eyes. I told her I didn’t like her behavior and that if she wanted to be treated like a big girl, she would have to act like one. That meant sitting in her booster seat, not throwing food and not screaming. I asked her if she wanted to try again.

“K,” she said.

So we went back in. No sooner had we sat down that Ladybug started her show again. I carted Ladybug off to the car while my husband got to-go boxes and paid the bill. While we waited, Ladybug continued her tantrum, grabbing whatever she could reach from her car seat and throwing it. I took off my sunglasses and turned around from the front seat.

“That is not acceptable behavior,” I said sternly. “We still have one more place to go, and we will not accept that behavior. When we get to the store, you will hold Mommy and Daddy’s hands and you will not scream. If you do, we will leave.”

Humbled, Ladybug stopped her wailing and sat still.

“That was really good,” my husband told me later that night.

I don’t know about that. I’m sure there’s some “parenting expert” somewhere who would cringe at how we handled her behavior. But it worked. Ladybug held my hand as we walked around the store. She pointed at things that interested her but did not try to touch them. I let her lead the way through the aisles and thanked her for her good behavior when we were done.

I was proud of her … and a little bit proud of us too.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How old is you child? It sounds like you did a great job. I am just wondering if my 12 month old could come stay at your house for about a week!!

September 27, 2007 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Michelle Mahfoufi said...

She's 19 months old. But I think that was really just a stroke of good luck because it certainly didn't work when we went to the library!

September 27, 2007 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger vulnadia said...

here's an idea-if you guys want to give booster seats a test drive, run by burlington & pick up a portable one to have @ home & you can also fold it up & keep it in the car-we have 3 & they are like those camping chairs & fold down very tiny-enough to fit in the stroller basket- you guys could have her practice at home (the seat straps to a plain chair & has RESTRAINT buckles too!) for when she goes to restaurants!then she would know what to expect a bit easier & i bet she would be proud to show of her new skills in public!

September 27, 2007 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Michelle Mahfoufi said...

Oh, nice idea! We'll have to check those out. Do you have any product ideas for using the potty when we're out and about?

September 27, 2007 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Major Mom said...

I think you handled that beautifully!

I bought one of those potty seats that sits on the big toilet and had it in the diaper bag for years. We had tried the ones that fold up but they pinched the baby's legs. So I just got a bigger diaper bag and carted a regular one everywhere.

Not only did it ease both my kids' tremendous fear of public toilets, but I felt like it was more sanitary too.

September 27, 2007 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger vulnadia said...

i havent been brave enough for potty seats yet-i am soo afraid of mine falling in!!!

my grandmother was one of those who always had potty seat covers before they became the social norm-so we ALWAYS used toilet paper to make em if we didnt already have a ready-pack!! now adays they are EVERYWHERE though- but i agree w/ melissa-i would go for the small potty seat attachment-
my eldest refused to use the baby potty-had to only use the real one-so am forgo-ing any idea of getting the smaller variety & going straight to stepstools & smaller potty attachment!
good luck!

September 28, 2007 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Michelle Mahfoufi said...

I think I'm going to try the portable fold-up potty just because I don't want her legs to dangle over the edge of a public toilet. And maybe I'm just not understanding the concept of the attachable potty seat, but what do you do with it after you've put it on a public toilet? I'm just thinking of the germ transfer between seats, especially if she needs to go again before I get to disinfect the portable seat at home.

September 29, 2007 at 7:19 PM  
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