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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Toddlers and restaurants leave mom breathless



At my house, we’ve been through many of the firsts, including walking, birthdays and holidays. Now, we’re 4524384-1879x2800 tackling potty training. My daughter’s taking to it, mostly because she likes the applause she gets when she hits her mark.

But there’s one milestone we’ve yet to achieve. We still haven’t mastered the art of eating out at restaurants. And at this point, I’m coming undone. I cringe when we receive dinner invites for the entire family. Why? Because I know what’s to come: wiggling, whining, begging to get out of the high chair and very little eating for the little tike or her parents.

Recently, me, my hubby, our 19-month-old daughter and some friends went out to eat at the Olive Garden. What was supposed to be a nice after-church meal turned into a wrestling match. I thought I’d done all the right things to prepare. I had snacks to occupy her until something tastier arrived. I had juice boxes ready for the sipping and even a few toys for her amusement. Still, total chaos reigned. My tot moved from one set of arms to the next and alternated between waving at other diners who sat nearby and running over to talk to them. She’s cute – I really am not biased – but she needs to sit down.

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve become the mother of that child. At my daughter’s age, the little crayons the wait staff gives her are little more than scud missiles or an unwelcome appetizer. Needless to say, during our Olive Garden outing we ate a bit, got the wait staff to pack up our meal and then headed home.

This scenario has repeated itself at a host of eateries ranging from the Cheesecake Factory to Golden Corral, where I was sure my toddler would fare better because there was no wait for food. Um, no dice!

My husband and I keep trying to eat out because we know we need to train her. But, honestly, it’s a lot easier to eat at home, where she exhibits a lot more self control. There she actually sits, eats and, wonder of all wonders, behaves.

I read some place that taking toddlers for a walk between ordering and the arrival of food can help maintain calm. I tried that recently when my family went to brunch at a fancy buffet restaurant. It worked for a while and then my girl was ready to move. I only got her to calm down when I took her out of her high chair and spoke a few stern words in her ear. The tornado passed, for about three minutes.

I’ve been working on my mean Momma routine, which includes a disapproving look, no-nonsense tone and punishment such as making her sit or lie down until she can straighten up. But those tools don’t seem to work when we’re dining out.

AHHHHHH, check please!

-- Sherri Day

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:03am]


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