In Dining Out

ImageJax is my constant companion, my forever sidekick and like it or not, she goes everywhere I go. She is hit or miss at the grocery store, but does extremely well while dining out. My girlie likes to eat. But like any baby she has her moments, she will break down in frustration and she can get loud and distractions are the best way to calm her.

We started our weekend with a busy Friday. Jax and I met a friend for “coffee” at Barnes and Noble. I’d not seen this friend for over three years and the plan was to get our drinks and mosey over to the children’s reading corner to chat and catch up while Jax played among the books. I did worry about the setting but Jax did ok for awhile. Then she started her demanding grunts which almost always erupt into shrieks of impatience if not tended to fast enough. I would simply hand her a new book or give her a sip of my drink and for awhile that did the trick.

My friend and I had only an hour to catch up before we had to part for separate commitments. We got about 45 minutes in before Jax really had enough of books and started crying, loud, disruptive crying. We packed up our things and spent our last 15 minutes finishing up our chat while pushing a happy Jax in the stroller in the parking lot.

Our next stop was meeting another friend for lunch. I was confident this would go well because I knew Jax would be hungry and would be occupied with her food. We chose a loud, busy restaurant so Jax’s boisterous excitement and/or frustration would be lost in the mix. But things don’t always go as planned.

Jax is transitioning out of her morning nap routine and starting to take longer afternoon naps instead. She did, however fall asleep on the 35 minute drive to the restaurant, which I was thankful for. The place was crowded and loud and Jax seemed very excited to be there….she loves to people watch. She’s cute as a button so folks were oohing and ahhing over her and she basked in the attention. Really hamming it up.

My friend was about 10 minutes late but Jax was content with her crayons and my purse. I asked our server to hold off on taking our order until my friend arrived. So she neglected our table all together. We waited about 15 minutes after my friend was seated before she came back. Jax got antsy so I took her out of the high chair and sat her on my lap. Our food arrived 20 minutes later and Jax screamed loudly when I put her back in the high chair but a strawberry quickly made the world right again.

She ate quietly for a few minutes and then decided the chair was no place for her. I saw her impatience building so I started inhaling my lunch. When her wiggles became body contorting squirms I again removed her from the restrictive high chair and held her.

All the while, there was a middle-aged couple sitting one table over who made it a point to shoot daggers in my direction every time Jax made a sound, even her yelps of excited and laughter elicited looks of disgust in my direction. It became annoying and made me uncomfortable.

When Jax really got going and nothing could distract her I asked my friend if she could wrap things up at the table while I took Jax outside. Her cries had become incessant and increasingly louder. I handed my friend $20 to cover my tab and started packing up my things (Jax had dumped out the contents of my purse).

During the entire two minutes it took to collect my things that Mr. and Mrs. Crotchedy stared me down with looks of total disgust and anger while muttering their disdain to each other.

I was LIVID!

Not because my child was having a full-blown meltdown in my arms but because of the blatant rudeness of these people. I am sure they don’t have children or grandchildren of their own. Otherwise they would know that these things happen. Other folks in the restaurant looked at me with sympathy and when Jax was at her worse on my way out I did get a few other annoyed glances but these two people pretty much stared me down the entire time.

So, you know what I did?

I walked right over to their table with Jax still wailing loudly and I said this:

“I’m sorry my baby is crying, but your constant dirty looks do not help the situation.”

To which that miserly man said: “Ok, lady, it’s our fault your kid is screaming.”

I honestly wanted to spit on his food then on his face! But I refrained.

No, it was not their fault my child was crying and I was not telling them that it was. However what good did their nasty looks serve? They did not make me want to get up and leave. But they certainly did anger and agitate me and Jax can feel that.

As terrible as this sounds, I kinda hope that Jax did ruin their lunch. They saw me leaving when Jax got out of hand and they still behaved rudely towards me and my child. A look can say 1,000 words and I got plenty from these two trolls.

I’ve encountered crying kids at the grocery store and I either ignore them and carry on with my business or I give the kid a smile, or maybe make a funny face at them or even blow a raspberry at them. I’ve seen these simple distractions actually stop the child from crying and carrying on. Distractions can be such a blessing to a flustered, frustrated mama.

Jax is a toddler and a spunky one at that. She demands attention and loves to be heard. These traits will only grow with her. I will do my best to turn those attributes into positive qualities, but I know we will have many, many more meltdowns before she can understand that such behavior is unacceptable.

I have no plans to hole up at home until that time comes, but I will remove Jax from any situation should her behavior become uncontrollable, which is exactly what I did that day.

I know some folks would disagree with what I am saying. They will tell me to just stay home if my child can’t behave. And to them I say why don’t you stay home if you can’t. Rude, nastiness from adults who know better is far worse than fussing from a baby who doesn’t.

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