Today, while meeting a supremely darling reader (hi, Reader!) for lunch, I had just such an incident. Now I'm seeing not my usual polka dots of prepdom but those un-Pretty ones of rage.
We met at a very casual lunch spot with playground attached and, true to tempestuous toddler form, Master P was having a difficult time from the get-go. The calm, sit-down lunch with beatific child beaming from his high chair and flirting with lunch companions just wasn't happening today.
I had to make one of those quick toddler parenting decisions where you either give up and go home or make the best of it and try to stay out of the other diners' way. Given the family-friendly setting, I decided to stay, and we sat outdoors near the playground so he could safely meander while we chatted - rather, while we tried to chat in between bouts of my sprinting to keep the wee CEO off the nearest table / on the playground.
Mildly Relevant Sidebar: I now have a new definition of "working lunch", which did not previously include coaxing my son down a slide while inhaling a now-cold slice of pizza he isn't interested in eating.
At the end of our meal, my little explorer caused me to sprint again when he wandered over to the field adjacent to the playground, where a grandfather-looking type and what I assume were his school-aged grandchildren were flying one of those expensive kites that look more like a weapon than whimsical child toy.
Master P cheerfully toddled into the kite cord and got tangled before I could catch him, which is when the (stuff) started flying:
"Your kid is going to hurt my kite and make these kids very angry," barked our hero, "He should know better - you need to do a better job of watching him." (note: nothing about how Master P could have been hurt by the sharp cord, just concern about the kite).
|Perpetuator of kite crimes to some, pretty awesome to mama here.|
You know those red spots of rage that cartoon characters get in front of their eyes? I actually get those - right before I slink away from a bad situation, usually, muttering under my breath. Not so this time:
"I'm sorry, sir" I offered, incredulous at his aggressive tone. I couldn't help but add, "He's one and one-half years old." I scooped up Master P to exit the bad scene, but not before our playground parenting expert replied:
"That's not good enough. You need to do a better job of watching him."
"And you need to do a better job of not insulting parents who are just trying to do their best," I cooly replied (yes, really I did) (Reader, please back me up here!) (parentheses) before issuing my patented Icy Glare and stomping off in my cute new Mom Shoes, which, I can only assume, helped here - add that to my list of purchase justifications. I ignored the invective he spewed about "(my) best isn't good enough" - in front of his grandkids, mind you - as we marched off.
Sigh. In my dotage, I now try to look at these situations and see what I could have done differently . . . should I have cancelled lunch and gone home when I saw Master P wasn't going to sit politely at lunch? Maybe - ordinarily I would have, since I believe restaurant patrons have the right to enjoy a peaceful meal without my child interrupting them. However, given the noisy, outdoor, casual setting spilling over with kids - there was a playground, for the love - I decided to chance it and try to do my best to make sure any bad behavior of his (and there was some, admittedly) didn't ruin another diner's experience.
Should Master P have free rein to run wherever he pleases and assault innocent kites? Of course not, and I did my best to remove him from the situation and apologize when it happened.
Should I have clocked that kite-crazy grandpa over the head with his fancypants toy while issuing some devastating one-liners - which I would have come up with on the spot, naturally - about how middle-aged men hanging out near playgrounds aren't at all creepy? Almost certainly - but then, what message am I sending to Master P or that guy's poor grandkids?
How would you have handled this? Anyone else have a drive-by parenting story to share?