Last weekend we went out to eat with Grammy and Granddad, which is always a little dodgy. Not because my mom and dad are particularly unruly, but because the Peanut is two and I kind of question whether two-year-olds really should be allowed in public. I loathe going out to eat with the Peanut at this age. It’s not much fun for me. I feel like a circus animal, trying to keep her pleasant and entertained so that everyone else can have a nice time and enjoy a conversation that I’m too distracted to participate in. (Ms. B., lest you think you get off the hook here – I distinctly remember a particularly hellish restaurant experience with you when you were the Peanut’s age where I just threw my hands up in the air and said, “That’s it! We can’t go out in public. I will never go out to eat again. Ever.” I was perhaps being a little melodramatic, but it really felt that way at the time.)
The wait for a table took much longer than anticipated and you can only ‘fruitsnack’ and ‘iPhone’ your way through so much with a two-year old when you’re waiting. The Peanut started to have a meltdown and I swept her up and took her outside before she could bother the other diners. I didn’t say anything in particular to her, didn’t threaten punishments, or promise rewards. I just sat her writhing body down on a bench and said, “We can’t be in the restaurant if you’re going to act like this.” As she continued to cry and flail about, I said, “You let me know when you’re ready to go back in.” And then I just sat down and waited her out.
A few minutes later, when she was through the worst of it and calm, I asked, “Think we’re ready to go back in?”
“Yes,” the Peanut sniffled as she took my hand. (She always says ‘yes’ now, perfectly enunciated. No more ‘yeah.’ I don’t know why, but it makes me giggle). We rejoined our group inside, still (STILL!) waiting on our table. The Peanut stood at our feet, swinging her arms back and forth.
“Sorry guys,” I heard the Peanut’s little voice say below us. Not everyone in the group heard her, and the adult conversation going on above her head continued.
“Hey! I sorry guys,” she said a little louder. I’m probably projecting here, but there was something about her tone of voice, the way she swung her arms, that felt a little sheepish about that whole tantrum incident. Like, “Sorry for any inconvenience. Man, was THAT embarrassing.”
“Thank you, Peanut. That was nice,” I said with a squeeze of her shoulders.
I’m sure we’ll have plenty more tantrums in public. I’m sort of dreading the inevitable grocery store throw down that means I need to abandon a full cart of produce in Aisle 7. It happened with her sister. It will happen with the Peanut. But it was nice to see the Peanut have a brief moment of unprompted clarity. That, “Hey, I was kind of uncool back there. Sorry ’bout that.” It gives me hope for the future.
I need that right now. The weekend’s coming up and, God give me strength, I’m sure someone’s going to suggest it might be nice to go out to eat.