Wednesday, January 02, 2013

How to Make a Mom's Day...

Happy new year, everyone!

So, we're in Florida for a whirlwind Disney trip with the kids. Not staying AT Disney (long story as to why) but we'll be there for a couple of days.

My kids are 8 and 5. They're at that age where they go from having fun together (which is typically loud and goofy) to pulling hair and hitting in a split-second. I think they're great kids — they're polite, they're smart, and yes, they can be loud, but it's usually in a good, spirited way, and rarely in a bad, angry way (when they are the latter, they get pulled aside and spoken to).

Before I had kids, like pretty much every childless person on the planet, I would see "spirited" kids in the grocery stores or restaurants pulling hair and being loud and disruptive, laughing and cackling together, and it would be distracting and at some point, inevitably, my husband would look at me and say, "My kids will never act like that." We've all done it, said it, thought it. And then — you know the story — you HAVE kids and realize wow, no matter what I do, they'll pretty much act like that, and when you see other kids acting like that in grocery stores and restaurants, you simply tune them out. They don't bother me, and you watch the poor harried parents shushing them and trying their best to keep them under control, and your heart goes out to them. For, it's likely that before you had kids, the parents of the kids you were shaking your head at in public were ALSO shushing and trying to keep those kids under control, but you simply didn't notice and tsk-tsked their lack of parental control.

Now I'm the mom trying to keep them under control, seeing the sympathetic looks on the faces of other parents, or the disapproval on the faces of those with no kids (or who have kids and have tricked themselves into thinking their children are perfect). I'm trying to load groceries onto the conveyer belt, and my kids are giggling and trying to tickle each other, or ducking around the grocery cart to see if they can tag the other kid. Just having fun, not fighting... but just awful to the many people who think kids should be seen and not heard. (I don't mean to say they're like this all the time, but when they are, it sometimes seems like it.)

So. Today. We drove last night to Detroit because we were flying out from there this morning. The kids didn't get anything to eat until about 7:30 at night because we were later than we expected packing everything, and crossing the border, and they were pretty punchy by the time we got to the restaurant. They sat kicking each other under the table, giggling and laughing loudly, and then we got them to the hotel and they jumped on the beds and ran around the room and we shushed them and told them to sit on the beds because people underneath could hear them running. This morning, up at 5 a.m., shushing them and telling them they couldn't wake other people in the hotel. They quietly came down to the lobby, my husband ran out to get the car, and I ran them over to the continental breakfast buffet, stuffing a bagel in each of their pockets and giving them little bowls of Fruit Loops. At the airport, they stood quietly in line, but every time one would look at the other and start giggling, we'd become uber-aware of the looks we were getting from people because our children were loud.

On the plane, my husband always books three seats together, and one on its own, and then acts surprised when we get there (I'm onto you, dude...). And so, I was with them. They were fine when I was between them, but near the end of the 2.5-hour flight, they were sitting together while my daughter played her DS and my son watched her (he loves watching people play games) and then they began giggling and wrestling and squirming and were definitely starting to get a little crazy, and I'm leaning over and telling them over and over to PLEASE BE QUIET. (Of course, babies were screaming two rows back, and the girl in the seat in front of us didn't stop yelling the entire flight.) Then into the airport, where they chased each other up the ramps... then to the car rental place, where they had put their backpacks on their fronts and were ramming into each other with their "big bellies" (it seems funny to me now, but at the time I saw other kids quietly sitting on a bench and so I was mortified). In the car they moved from giggling to smacking each other, then at the restaurant for lunch my son laid down on the bench and said he wanted to sleep, so I kept dragging him to a sitting position and got him to eat, and then in the car back to smacking before my son quieted down, complained he was "super tired" and fell asleep. At the hotel they ran around in the room, we shushed them (natch), then they tore down the hall to the elevator to go to the pool. They swam for over 2 hours, and then walked back to the room, got changed, and we went out to an Italian restaurant that had good reviews.

We walked in, and it was really nice decor, tiny, and quiet. All senior citizens or couples (they'd said on the site it was a family restaurant). We sat down, kids across from each other, and my daughter quietly started colouring on a piece of paper, while my son just sat there quietly for a bit, then asked if he could play a game on my phone. Food came, they both ate wonderfully, quietly, my husband and I had a conversation about Boardwalk Empire, and then my daughter went back to colouring while my son talked to me for a bit afterwards. Halfway through the meal, I thought to myself, I know these kids are completely knackered, but I wonder if the other people in the restaurant are thinking these are the most wonderfully behaved children they've ever seen?

And then, just as we were finishing up, a couple who'd been eating in the corner stood up and were about to leave when the woman came over to our table and said, "I don't mean to interrupt, but I wanted to tell you that your children are absolutely lovely and SO well behaved! Their teachers must LOVE them!" My daughter looked up from her colouring and said yes, her teacher loved her (ha!) and my son was too tired to even respond. I thanked her profusely, beaming with pride, and she said it was a joy to be in a restaurant with such quiet kids.

And my day was made.

The next time I see a couple with quiet kids, I'm going to tell them that. Because, there's a 99% chance those kids aren't always that quiet, but they're just having a good night. And those parents have shushed and begged and gotten the dirty looks all the time from other people, and are sighing with internal relief that their kids are giving them a quiet night, for whatever reason. And rather than the angry looks, to get someone to tell them their kids are great? An AMAZING feeling.

Just for that, I'm going to let my kids tear Disney apart over the next two days. ;)

Have a happy New Year, everyone!


Marebabe said...

Great story! Have fun at D-World, and remember to pace yourself.

Sagacious Penguin said...

Awesome! Enjoy Disney -- you're in my neck of the world now :-)

Eugen Caitaz said...

Happy New Year dear Nikky!!!! I Begin at 1 january to rewatch Lost! For me it's like to "Back in the Future")))

Efthymia said...

Disney is a very appropriate place for them to go crazy, it would be weird to see children all quiet and subued there.

I think people being annoyed with children playing (and their parents for letting them) are stupid. I understand being annoyed with a kid that, say, drops everything they can reach to the supermarket floor or screams their lungs of so that their parents get them a chocolate bar (I know this has nothing to with how good the parenting is, but it's still annoying) or incessantly kicks your seat when being seated behind you in a plane/movie theater etc, but children playing? Isn't that what they're supposed to do? Especially if they're siblings, I'm always happy to see them get along and play together.

Personally, I applaud parents who don't give in to attention seeking behaviour (even though I'm simultneously thinking "That's why I'm NEVER having kids!"). I don't applaud parents who are permissive of bad behaviour and don't accept it or do nothing about it even if it's pointed out to them.

Dale Guffey said...

Probably not the time to mention that I slipped your kids $5 to pull Grumpy's beard, huh?

Have a blast!

Blam said...

I'm "only" an uncle, but your story is familiar from both perspectives. And it's an anecdote to treasure.

Austin Gorton said...

My takeaway from this is that if I want my kids to behave, I just need to get them thoroughly exhausted before going out in public. :)

(My captcha number is 815...freaky!)

Joan Crawford said...

Nikki, I feel you. I too have an 8 year old and 5 year old. I have worn out my "Hairy Eyeball" muscle over the holidays while visiting relatives.