We’ve all been a part of or witnessed it…dinner at a restaurant with a crying toddler. My family is no exception.
One night at dinner our youngest lost it. I mean, the boy lost it. It was one of those moments when he wanted everything and nothing at the same time. Give me a cracker…how dare you give me a cracker! (You know what I’m talking about!) The more we tried to appease him, the more we angered the beast.
We got the full range of looks from those around us, too.
Looks like…the “Aww poor baby,” the “I’m glad it’s them and not us” and the “maybe ya’ll should just take yours to-go,” you know, with the pursed lips and raised eyebrows. One couple even requested to change seats.
Who could blame them? I get it, I really do. It’s Friday night. It was a long work week and you were looking forward to a nice dinner out so you wouldn’t have to do the dishes. (The same reasons we ventured out!)
In those situations, trust me, no one feels worse than the parents. We want it to end quickly. My wife and I typically scour every inch of the diaper bag looking for something…anything. Surely there is a magic toy in here that will make him stop crying, sit up straight and clean his plate. Where are you magic toy!?
Unfortunately, there are no magic toys. And, despite everything your child doesn’t want, the one thing he or she does want is you. You are better than any rattle or stuffed animal at the bottom of a diaper bag. So just be firm and show them a little love and patience. (You know the same thing we need when we throw one of our adult-sized tantrums. Oh, and big kids too.)
A smile from a friendly stranger doesn’t hurt either.
In fact, next time you see me or any other distressed Dad’s out there at a restaurant…wave at the kids or start an impromptu game of peek-a-boo. They love me, but they find you WAY more interesting. Plus, you know what they say, “It takes a village to help a child calm down at a restaurant” or something like that.