After a particularly draining day at work, I made the executive decision that my boys and I (then 4 yrs. and 2) would meet my husband for dinner before heading home. Within minutes of being seated in our booth at Chili’s, I could tell this was going to be a more demanding experience than I had anticipated.
(Will Ferrell kept playing in my head: “Let’s go get kicked out of an Applebees!”)
#1 was tired and cranky and crying about EVERYTHING. #2 was strong in the midst of his phase when he was trying to exert his new-found independence. His chosen method during this time was to remain standing while eating. No matter where we were, at home or at a restaurant, or who we were with, Braden would stand up in his chair to eat. Every. single. meal. we. battled. over. this.
There are many things I am willing to overlook as a parent, internally reminding myself that my child is growing and learning and sometimes the best course of action is no action. Like when your child picks the most opportune time to try out the bad word they overheard– in your house nonetheless– while you’re standing in the check-out line at the library, where silence is of course deafening. All the experts, our respected day care director included, warn not to overreact and make the offensive language look appealing. So, even though I was mortified and could feel the judgmental eyes of everyone in the library boring into me, I calmly led my son into the foyer for some privacy (and to hide my reddening face) and almost nonchalantly said, “We don’t say the word *****. It doesn’t sound pretty.” Problem solved.
So, I’d say I’m flexible. But the whole standing up to eat debacle has gone on FOREVER. It is maddening! I have finally reached the point where I am willing to die on that hill.
Needless to say, our dining experience this particular evening wasn’t going well. I gave #1 a chance to sit up in the booth and stop crying, but he refused to cooperate. I was tired, but I needed to make good on my promise that I had blurted out just moments before. “I’ll give you one more chance, and then I’m going to take you outside for a consequence.”
Outside we went. I led the oddly compliant four-year-old by his little hand, already regretting my hasty choice of words. I knelt down to his level and again explained my expectations for dinner and what he was doing that wasn’t meeting those expectations. After I swatted his bottom, he looked up at me. He didn’t cry or moan or wail as expected, but looked right into my eyes with a look of seriousness. “Mama,” he said. “That wasn’t very hard. Do you need to borrow some of my superpowers?”
I couldn’t help but laugh.
Erupt is more like it.