I am sorry. To all you moms out there who can’t go out to eat because your kid screams and ruins your dinner, I am so sorry. Until now, I’ve been incredibly spoiled and I may have even thought it was your fault that your kid was screaming during dinner. (I may have judged you a little.) My first two children–girls–were what we called white-tablecloth babies. We could take them to the best upscale restaurant on the Magnificent Mile and they wouldn’t make a peep. They would eat their dinner and play with a toy and everyone would smile at them and compliment me. I thought I was soooooo good at this mothering thing. What a fool I was.
My darling son just turned one. This is the one who already got me yelled at on a plane (another first). He has one volume: LOUD. He screams if his food isn’t in front of him quickly enough, when he runs out of zucchini and hot dogs, when he’s thirsty, tired, angry, happy, sticky, uncomfortable, bored, or just having fun. He has one mode of communication: screaming. This is not a discipline issue. He can’t be “disciplined” yet. He’s a baby. (The first person to say “spank him” in the comments section loses. You don’t spank a baby.) You can’t even really speak harshly to a baby. It makes the screaming worse! The only thing you can do is hurry up and leave the restaurant, change his scenery, play peek-a-boo, give him your keys, your necklace, the ten different toys in the baby bag, your wallet, your dignity and pray it stops. My God, it’s horrible!
Don’t get me wrong. I adore this kid, but I’ve never heard so much screaming this side of Hell. I’m sure it will lessen when he can talk and communicate with us, but as it is, we are drowning in shrieking over here. I hesitate to say, “I can’t wait for this stage to be over” because the next one that comes is the whining stage and that one’s no picnic either. What the heck happened to my quiet baby who nursed half the day and slept the rest of the time? Why do I feel like I’ve never done this before and most importantly, will I ever eat out with my family again?
Not only does he scream, but he misses his mouth most of the time (see “Why My Kitchen Floor is Always Disgusting“) and the whole floor around him is peppered with bits of half-chewed food. It’s so embarrassing. Mr. Fox and I had an emergency meeting about the dining-out behavior tonight. We are about to go out of town for two days and we’ve decided we should bring food and just eat in our room. It’s that bad. And I’m a veteran mother! This is number three! If I am not doing well, how much worse is it for you first timers? I’m so sorry! I feel you, sister!
So here’s my best advice if you’re facing a similar problem:
- It’s not your fault.
- Vodka is your friend.
- If you must go out to eat, go to the next town to the loudest place you can find (where no one knows you) and leave a big tip.
- Leave him with a babysitter until he’s 10.
Above all, the days are long, but the years are short, so it will end sooner than you think it will. Until then, you’ll find me slinking out of public places with a shrieking baby, trying not to be recognized.
Images via Shutterstock