This is the start of what may become a regular series on the blog entitled Apologies. I feel the need to apologize a lot lately – to the kids, my husband, my friends, my boss, my coworkers, and complete strangers. I am usually either failing to live up to expectations, doing too much of something (usually yelling), or not doing enough (work, time with my husband, attention to the kids). Sometimes I am apologizing for my own shortcomings and other times for the shortcomings of my children. Today I have to apologize for both.
I apologize to Moe’s for the awful tantrum my 17-month old threw in your dining establishment today. We were just coming in to pick-up a big to-go order and this 5-minute trip turned into a 15-minute nightmare. I know I tried to say that he never acts like that, as if that would excuse the scene he was making, but that was not a total lie. He has never acted that way in a restaurant. He usually only throws those tantrums at home. What was I supposed to say – “Sorry, my kid is acting like an out-of-control little monster, and I am a terrible parent for not knowing how to get him under control”? I guess that would have been more accurate at that moment.
I apologize to the hard-working employees, especially those that helped clean up the messes we made along the way. Sorry about the entire snack container of pretzels Noah threw all over the floor. I did my best to clean up, but I am sure that we left some pretzels under tables. I am sorry about all the napkins my 3-year old pulled out and left all over a table as I ignored him, while trying to gain control over my flailing 17-month old. I apologize for leaving a very messy, stinky diaper in the bathroom trash can. I usually try to take those outside in a special bag, but it was all I could do to just escape the bathroom with my tearful, poop stained baby and very restless toddler.
I apologize to the other patrons that were witnessing the screaming, flailing, crying, and hitting debacle in front of them with a mix of disgust and pity. Noah threw himself on the floor kicking and crying for no good reason at least 3 times. To keep him from hurting himself and to get him off the dirty floor, I thought it would be slightly better to let him lose it in my arms and hurt me instead. Of course, I tried to soothe him, distract him, and calm him down to no avail. I was well aware that all eyes were on me, wondering why I could not gain control over this tiny, emotional person. I especially apologize to the little boy who put his hands over his ears and did not take them away until we left the restaurant. I know that we were interrupting your nice, peaceful lunch out on a Sunday. Sorry!
I apologize to the two nice ladies who approached me asking if I needed any help. I know it is hard to watch a miserable little baby and be so helpless to quiet him down. Unfortunately, there was not much you could really do to help, other than putting the lids on my salsa cups and helping me out to the car with my bags so I could contain my miserable child. I especially apologize to the second kind woman who saw me burst in to tears as she was helping me at the salsa bar. I hope you don’t think I am crazy. Your innocent question was just the final straw that sent me over the edge. My tears were a result of a long, frustrating morning with a grumpy baby and an even more frustrating and embarrassing 15 minutes at the restaurant. I know you were judging me, at least a little, but just know that we were simply having a bad moment – both of us. I am usually much more calm, composed, and in control. Noah is usually not such a terror, at least not to that degree.
Lastly, I apologize to Noah. I know you are still a baby – barely able to handle your emotions, especially on command. You are usually a sweet, happy guy and love to run errands like this with me. Maybe you’re not feeling well today (hence the awful diapers) or maybe you just did not want to be on this particular errand. Either way, tantrums are never acceptable, especially in public. At home I can employ my usual defusing strategies like ignoring, time-out, or redirecting you with a toy or food. Those strategies are much more difficult when waiting in line to pay at a crowded restaurant. I am sorry for losing my patience with you and for putting you in that situation in the first place. That still does not excuse the tantrum, especially the hitting (we are working hard to discourage this particular behavior). Even when I don’t like your behavior, I still love you and always will.
Enough apologizing for now. Noah calmed down once we were in the car driving home from Moe’s. He went down for nap and slept for three hours. Despite the public humiliation earlier in the day, I braved another outing to the mall with all three kids after nap. I am proud to say that everyone behaved. I maintained control of myself and them, and we had a good time playing at the mall playground and shopping at Gymboree. I know this won’t be the last time I feel the need to apologize for a bad tantrum or less-than-ideal behavior from one of my kids, but hopefully this won’t be a regular occurrence.