Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Trying to chat while watching toddler can be challenging
Anonymous: (About Monday's active toddler): Please throw in a perspective from someone without children. I have many friends who pick and choose when they decide to rein in their children so they can actually hold a conversation. It can be done and, if the parent wants to be a good friend, it should be done, otherwise it's rude.
Yes, we are all happy you have kids, but there's nothing wrong with expecting a little adult time. I would worry about the mother who couldn't keep her kid in one room so the sisters could talk. My sis has no problem controlling her toddler's behavior.
I think the sister with the kid owes her sis an apology for not being present during the visit. Having kids does not give everyone a pass in etiquette.
Carolyn: I spent a lot of time with small children before I had them myself, and it can be nightmarish. Attempts at adult conversation range from frustrating to maddening.
But, please — the parents are often more frustrated than the non-.
And while we are all happy your sister "has no problem controlling her toddler's behavior," that's one mom's outcome with one kid. Your sister's child may be on the docile end of the spectrum. At the other end are kids who will not stop moving, touching, pushing boundaries.
Their parents are most desperate of all, both for adult conversation and for loved ones who see their predicament and cut them a break.
Finally, ahem, the toddler-mom did apologize, twice. But the sister ripped into her anyway! I'm sorry, this is a complete failure on the sister's part to show empathy.
Anonymous 2: Re: Toddlers: My first child never sat still. We would go to play groups and bypass a whole roomful of new toys and snacks to open the cabinets, trash can, fridge, oven, toilets, push every button, flip every switch, eat the dog food. I wasn't choosing not to rein him in. I never had more than a two-sentence conversation. I usually left and ended up crying. I hated to go to parties, cookouts, etc., because I spent the entire time following him around. I was going to scream if I heard "Just redirect him" one more time.
There are just going to be some extra energetic and curious kids. My second was entirely different.
Carolyn: Thanks. Hope that sister reads this.
Jealous Sister: It's me, the original poster. I think my sister felt I was talking to/through my toddler the whole time. But it's really hard to focus simultaneously on adult conversation and preventing toddler from injury to herself or house.
Carolyn: Your sister's frustration seemed to be of the I've-seen-plenty-of-parents-handle-everything-just-fine-so-why-didn't-you? variety.
And really, that attitude isn't unique to the narrowly defined group of people who don't realize some kids are tougher than others.
It's a problem in all areas of human interaction, where the limits of our experience are mistaken for the limits of what is true. As in: "He finds time for friends during med school, so why can't you?" Or: "I lost my baby weight, why can't you?" It's an insidious strain of judgmental behavior that, as some of you may have noticed, really leaves me cold.