Posted by: heartfull | April 28, 2009

An evening out in which we had f-u-n.

My dad decided yesterday morning that our side of the family needs to celebrate John’s birthday (which was in fact in February but my family tends to procrastinate.)  So everyone was called and we made plans to meet at a local restaurant at 5:30.

By 2:30 I knew that this was a bad idea.  My mom had watched Chip for an hour while I helped in Mare’s classroom.  When I got back and I hung around her house, avoiding my own since it contained multiple  chore-like pitfalls.  Chip was crazy-busy, bouncing, jumping, running, flipping and on and on.  He had some energy that he could not burn off.  In actuality, a nap would have done the trick, but even though I drove him around after we left (the only way a nap happens these days), he never did fall asleep.

We picked the girls up from school and I had him play outside for an hour before we left, but still.  He bounced off the restaurant’s walls.  The video games did keep him occupied for 2/3 of the time.  But the rest of the time saw him jumping on the booth, blowing out candles, roaming the room.  There was no containing him – I would have had to leave and, well, I figured we were at a family restaurant, it wasn’t busy and he wasn’t being loud in voice – just loud in actions.

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A couple months ago, I had had enough of taking Chip to Panera’s.  He loves to go and get a bagel while Bird is at dance, since they are right next to each other.  But he had turned these little trips into a living hell for me.  Instead of Chip, Mare and I sitting and talking about our day, I spent the whole time disciplining him as he tried to run off again and again.  And so we stopped going.  He begged, the answer was always no, with no explanation.  A couple weeks ago, as we dropped Bird off at dance, I explained to him why I had quit taking him and that I would try it again that day but if he didn’t act like a perfect gentlemen, we would leave.

He was lovely.  We had a lovely time.  We talked about our day, played I-Spy, refilled mommy’s tea, munched our bagels, etc…  If he started to act up, I reminded him that we would not do this again if he couldn’t behave, and he immediately put his bottom back in the chair and sat.

We haven’t been back since, as I think it needs to be “special” to keep the chaos at bay.  Maybe this week?  Better yet, when he asks this week, I think I’ll tell him no and reference last night’s outing.

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I’m not terribly strict and I don’t have high standards for how my children should behave in public.  They are children and occasionally acting out is to be expected.  What I can’t abide is behavior that ruins my or other people’s experience.  A child walking back and forth to the video games while waiting for the food to come out is fine.  Jumping on the bench is not.  Yeah, I’m talking about you, buddy…

Overall, my girls have good manners and behave fairly well in public with the occasional misstep.  I couldn’t always say that – definitely not when they were preschool age.  I don’t know yet whether my laid-back style will work with a child as energetic as Chip.  At three (years?  kids?  does it matter???), my expectations are low and for now, while he is at this “stage”, I generally avoid taking him out and cancel plans if it is obvious that it just won’t go well.

Canceling just wasn’t an option last night.  Of course, it is the nights when you don’t feel like you can cancel that are also the nights you feel as if you are under the magnifying glass.  Ahhh – family.

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