By AMY GULLI
One night during the recent heat wave, I decided I was tired of heating up the house just to make dinner.
So we went to Friendly’s. We didn’t exactly have ice cream for dinner, but the amount of ice cream we ate certainly exceeded the amount of real dinner-type foods we ate.
In the first two minutes, we had two crayons and a triangle-shaped, stand-up promotional piece hit the floor. That was quickly followed by straw wrappers — the annoying plastic kind you can’t fold into little squares — some more crayons, and four small Thomas the Tank Engine trains we had brought to keep Noah, 2, entertained.
During the short dinner portion of our evening, Sam, 7, tried to shoo a fly away and knocked a dish of corn onto the carpet. Noah, during a brief but raging temper tantrum, whipped a wooden train car just past the ear of a person sitting behind us because I had picked up his spoon and suggested he take a bite of mac and cheese.
Apple slices went tumbling down at some point, though I didn’t see it happen. A paper kids’ menu drifted under a chair, and — the coup de grace — Noah spilled my glass of lemonade, pouring the liquid and the ice across the table and onto his leg — and his shirt and his arm and his booster seat and the chair beneath and the carpet.
People were staring at us. Some glared or looked disgusted. And I can’t say that I blame them: We must have been annoying. It used to bother me, to be looked at as a mother who can’t control her kids.
But I have almost seven years under my belt now. I know what kind of mom I am. I know that this was just a particularly klutzy (and tired) evening for my crew. I know that I’ve been annoyed by other people’s kids in restaurants and that, before I had kids, I might have thought some judgmental things about a mother in a similar position.
I found I cared very little about what other people thought.
It was 105 degrees outside, people. My kids had been playing outside all day and swimming in this heat. It was too hot to cook in our house, and I brought them out for an hour or so because we could hang out in air conditioning and eat ice cream for dinner.
Yes, their table manners sucked. Yes, I am in charge of them. Yes, they are going to have times when they struggle to keep themselves under control — and when I struggle to keep them under control, too. They’re learning.
Deal with it.
Amy Gulli lives in Dauphin County with daughter Sam, 7, and son Noah, 2. She writes about parenting at yorkblog.com/mommy.