“Don’t lick the table!” I whispered with the firmest tone I could muster.
When it comes to visiting friends or relatives with children in tow I’m always slightly on edge. You pray that they’ll be on their best behaviour, not break anything, say or do anything inappropriate and not make too much racket. In reality I’m asking them not to be children for the duration of our visit.
You want to respect your guests house and I suppose deep down you don’t want people to assume that you’re a rubbish parent doing a terrible job.
When we visit people who have young children I’m slightly more relaxed because we’re comrades, brothers and sisters, members of a secret mason like society with secret handshakes.
Visiting older relatives not use to young children is another matter. They enjoy a quiet, peaceful and tidy life. I’m on my toes from the moment I walk through their door. I literally follow my kids around their house picking up things the moment they hit the floor.
We’ve just returned from an overnight stay with some dear relatives amazing people but fall into the above category. The last time we stayed my daughter refused to speak to anybody the whole time, holding her toddler mood firm. Not even the offer of chocolate cake could coax her out of the intense mood trance.
So when she actually started to make conversation with our hosts a few hours after arriving I was over the moon! My son had a milk spillage over dinner, but apart from that all was frighteningly smooth.
To make matters even more content at 6.30pm my daughter tells me that she is ready for bed. She never goes to sleep this early, so I was waiting for the catch, but there was none. I took her up, read a bedtime story and within minutes she was out for the count. Theo went down a few hours later and they both slept peacefully through the night.
It was so smooth that I wasn’t at all surprised to find myself faced with a lunchtime incident the following day.
We’d taken the children to see a ‘Wind in the Willows’ exhibition and decided to have lunch at the museum. The kids loved the exhibition and the delight on their faces on discovering badgers in waistcoats was priceless.
Once in the cafe, my daughter asked to go in a high-chair then demanded out once in it, she then changed her mind once more, firmly stating that she definitely wanted in (it was like some sort of boardroom takeover discussion). But then her foot got stuck in the bottom of the chair, que loud screeching which led to raised eyebrows and disapproving looks throughout the room (always just what you need in these type of situation).
When everybody had settled down with lunch placed before them, Rose decided that she wanted to eat a packet of crisps and nothing else would suffice.
“Come on Rose, your brother is eating his lunch, it looks really yummy.” I pleaded.
“No, don’t like it, I want crisps.”
The conversation stayed on this theme for a few minutes as I tried to stay calm. My calmness disappeared when she threw herself underneath the table whilst flapping her arms and legs about like a parrot having an epileptic fit.
During the whole time I was more than aware of the busy lunchtime hum around me. I felt personally responsible for ruining peoples lunches and felt like going up to each and every person to apologise for the mini drama. I could also tell them that she’s usually a brilliant toddler and that I’m an ok dad.
“Here you go then, here’s the crisps”. I told her firmly. My discipline was a complete joke really as I’d done everything that they say not to, i.e. give in to your childs demands, bribe them with junk food.
Rubbish parenting, I put my hands up, i’m guilty as charged.
I could’ve gone down a different route but that lunchtime I took the easy way out for a peaceful lunch.
What would you’ve done?