One night he was over hanging out at our house, it was getting to dinner hour and I'd yet to even think about making it because ha-ha yea right and it was a Friday night. So Declan suggested we go next door to the neighborhood restaurant. It's literally a hot-dog place. Of course, it sells nicer food, too. But it's known for it's hot-dogs. The sign calls it the "neighborhood place" and it boasts being a family friendly restaurant. We go there all the time.
We wanted to eat on the patio, that was our plan actually. But we remembered that two weeks ago when we were there, we tried that. Except that Emeline is hyper sensitive to bees or anything buzzing around her head right now. She freaks. So a few scream-fests the last time sent off a red flag in our heads--so we opted to sit inside instead.
They sat us right behind (in front? next to?) a table of elderly people. Two couples, on a little double date, I guess. If I had to guess I'd say they were in their 70's or so.
Truthfully, when I walked in and realized they were sitting us right there, I had a moment where I scanned to see how far they were in their meal. They were just about to order dessert, and so I mentally took note that, at least they were almost done.
My kids were actually being pretty decent. There were no tears. Everyone was happy. There was the occasional 3 year old redirection, Honey, sit on your bottom, it's time to eat- type thing. But that's normal. Lucy was in her highchair at the end of the table, happy as a clam. In fact, she was so happy that every few minutes she'd make a few baby shrieking/happy squealing sounds. She was being fed (it was my full time job...keeping food in front of her), she had a drink, she was just taking it all in and being a (not even at the time) 1 year old.
My brother and Declan were in deep conversation about something or other. But I could tell by my brothers face (who was facing the old people table) that they were reacting anytime Lucy made a squeak. One time I asked him if they were reacting to her, he just sort of laughed/shrugged it off, saying it was funny and don't worry about them.
Here is a visual for your reference. You're welcome for the awful drawing.
I started to sense that every few minutes these people were huffing and puffing behind me anytime they heard a chatter out of Lucy's mouth. Usually? This kind of stuff would bother me hardcore, especially if I know my kid is being awful. But the truth is, she was happy. She wasn't screaming bloody murder. She wasn't tired. She wasn't hungry. She was happy and squawking here and there. So I was more annoyed that I could sense them being outwardly irritated by a baby more than anything.
I never turned around once. I never made a face. They could see that I wasn't ignoring my kid. That she was happy and fed and had all her needs met.
It felt like it took them an eternity to finish their dessert and leave. As they were getting up to leave, the two men walked out first, then the two women closely behind. I could sense their disgust and joy in leaving the restaurant. They were getting all loud about it. So I leaned over to Declan and said something like, "I wonder if they had kids"--because, surely anyone with children before would know that this is normal.
When Woman B (the one in the back) leans in between Declan and I (she's standing up, mind you--we are seated), and says in a loud, hasty voice---"HONEY, I HAD 5 CHILDREN AND I WOULDN'T DARE BRING THEM TO A RESTAURANT LIKE THIS."
It took me so off guard, A) because I really didn't realize she had heard me (I'm assuming she did--but I also think if she didn't, she still would have said something) B) it was aggressive, and loud, and right behind our heads and C) was this really happening?
Please note: This is all kind of a blur. Even in hindsight, it's hard to recall every little thing. Our 2 minute encounter felt like an eternity. Also, my husband was interjecting too--it's just, I wasn't paying attention to remember what he said. My head was in a fog and like, IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING like I said above.
She started walking away and I turned around in shock to look at her, and usually I'd whimper and cower in the corner (not quite), but instead I said, "Oh really? You wouldn't bring your children to the NEIGHBORHOOD, FAMILY restaurant? That's a shame!" Stressing on those two words hardcore.
She got wide eyed and fierce, teeth-gritting, and said, "NO. Actually I wouldn't take them out until they were old enough to behave properly in a restaurant." Then she pointed at Lucy, made a face, and said something to the effect of, "You should learn how to parent this one".
LIVID. Fumes. Declan was also spewing off things here and there but he was behind me and I just couldn't take it all in. He did not sit quiet. My brother? Was probably in shock, just sitting there. He hates conflict.
I remember saying, "Ma'am, you are offensive. She's not even 1 yet, and you'd like me to reason with her to stop making noises? She's happy!" She repeated again that I needed to teach her how to behave properly. Again, and again I told her that she was being offensive and to please stop.
The woman just kept telling me that she would never dare dream of bringing her children to a restaurant "like this". I laughed again, reminding her this place sells hot dogs and is no 5 star place. Meanwhile, her husband, now embarrassed (as he should be), was dragging her by the arm out the door.
More words were exchanged that I know I missed, and I honestly don't remember them all. Blurry. It's all a blur. It was my first negative encounter with a stranger regarding my children, and with a direct slam to my parenting.
The second she left, I grabbed my napkin and began to cry into it like a moron. I let this lady get to me, to my core. It made me mad. I was fuming inside, but I was mortified and sad that this happened. In complete shock, actually.
Immediately two servers came up to me and told me what jerks they were. That they had been jerks the whole night to them, and to not let them upset me. That they were glad we were there, and my children are welcome there anytime. That they could tell Lucy was happy and not upset, and they enjoyed hearing her happy sounds.
There was a table with a Dad and his older son in front of us. They heard the whole thing. They had just paid their check and as he was walking out, he leaned down to me and said--"hey, how are kids supposed to learn how to behave in restaurants if we don't take them to 'em?" It was nice. I knew he was just giving me that reaffirming pat on the back.
I was so bummed out about it the entire night. More so, it made me realize that I so badly want to be the older person one day who doesn't forget what it's like to have small children. That gives that young mom a pat on the back and a "I saw how well you tended to your baby tonight, honey, you did great--she's obviously a happy girl".
It made me hope and pray that I am not bitter and nasty one day--making young moms cry and questionthemselves because I was slightly inconvenienced by a few baby squawks and squeals during dessert. I want to remember what it's like. How hard it is to even get out the door to the family restaurant at all. How much of a sacrifice it is to sit there and feed her non-stop, play peek-a-boo a million times, tickle her toes, keep her happy, and be lucky enough to get a bite of my food before it gets cold.
I mostly want to remember and encourage that mom that she's doing great, and not be an old hag that gets blogged about.
Let's make it happen.
Please note: I do not believe all elderly people aren't kind. I have relationships with many older people who are loving and so great with my children, or ones I have ran into at the mall, restaurant, store that stop and smile and talk to my girls, telling me how lovely and sweet they are. We just happened to be sitting near a few bad eggs, I guess. Lucky for me. ((eye roll))