I guess it was inevitable that my baby would not stay a baby forever.

In many ways it is a pleasure to see him mature and develop. I can count on him to give me hugs and kisses just for the heck of it. He increasingly understands what his father and I say to him and he responds (selectively) in kind. He recently discovered that he can dance. Since then he hasn’t heard a dance beat that he can resist. Then today, he fearlessly climbed down four steps on his own only to stop because my whoops of joy alerted him to the fact that he was entering unprecedented territory.

Every day brings something new.

But along with the cuteness and the awe comes the awareness that my sweet baby is now a Capital-T-Toddler.

How do I know this? I can’t take this child out to restaurants anymore.

My barely touched meal that I had to box and eat later because my Capital-T-Toddler approached his cuteness threshold

Check this: Once upon a time, C and I could take Baby E to a restaurant and get comments on “What a good baby” we had. The commenters came to this conclusion because Baby E was mostly quiet. He either sat in our laps or in a high chair. In the really early days he even went to sleep for a good part of our meal time. We could generally count on him being mostly chilled out unless he was hungry and of course that could be solved with nursing.


Capital-T-Toddlers do not do these things.

What I have learned, is that my Capital-T-Toddler will have a meltdown if we take him to a restaurant after 7:00 pm. He will not sit in a high chair. He will not sit still on our laps. He will insist on running away from our table. He will not be satisfied by nursing. He will do the “stiff-body laying on the floor while screaming thing.”

If we take him to a restaurant earlier in the day, things go much better. He is a much happier child. However, happy Toddlers still want to play with everything on the table. Happy Toddlers throw/drop food on the floor. Happy Toddlers leave big messes that lead certain parents (me!) to be even better tippers out of guilt.

My child is developing what I call, “The cuteness threshold” which is the point where  the level of cuteness becomes inversely related to the level of Capital-T-Toddlerism.

In other words, it’s when the “awwww” turns into “noooooooo!”

Posted on February 19, 2011, in Life with a toddler and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I love to go out to eat and my kids are rarely interested. Until they became of-age that I could leave them at home, if they wanted, this meant many frustrating restaurant dates. For years.

    The fact people don’t help us watch our wee kiddos – whether so we can have a few minutes to ourselves out and about, or so we can eat at a restaurant while the kiddo harmlessly explores – and restaurant-goers, actually many people in public, stare and/or glare when children display developmentally-appropriate tendencies – means basically there are a whole hell of a lot of carers who are exiled from public society and/or have to bolt and run etc. etc. Um, usually a time we most need calories, and a few minutes of peace too. It sucks.

    What was your meal? I’ve been thinking about fried chicken all day today. I hope my (actual, living-in-the-yard) chickens haven’t caught this vibe.

  2. i’m a full-time nanny (and hopefully a first-time mum by this time next year). most recently, i’ve been with the same family for a little over three years and their girls are now almost 2 years old and 3 1/2 years old. since i’m with the girls for the majority of their waking hours 5 days a week, it sometimes feels like i’m a single parent on the day-to-day, so i definitely feel your pain twice over! hang in there.

    when i have to take them out to a restaurant or any public place where i would also like to be able to get something to eat, i just try to be prepared. 6mos – 1 yr ago, especially because there were two of them, it was imperative that there be two high chairs if i could get them. even if/when one or both felt like pitching a fit, they were limited in their fit-pitching capacity by the fact that they couldn’t take it on the road – i.e. you can scream and kick your legs, but you cannot run around to spread that love to everyone else in the place. lol. if it was a place where the focus was on the girls and all about my interactions with them, they were usually fine, and if not, it was usually in a place where other people brought kids and nobody was too offended by it. if it was a place where i needed a lunch/dinner date with another nanny or grown-up and i’d be talking to another adult a good deal of the time (or trying to), i’d get high chairs if they were available. if not, Big J could sit beside me and Baby C could sit in my lap. I’d bring a couple of books for them to “read” , Baby C’s doudou (kind of like a blankie), their own sippy cups, some special snack (on the day-to-day, they have fresh fruit for snack, but if i’m expecting special behaviour, i’ll give in to some toddler cookies if it means salvaging an evening – even if it means i’m semi-bribing them to eat their meals with the promise of it at the end), and (my lifesaver at times) have a kid-friendly/kid-appropriate playlist of songs ready to go on my phone, and/or be ready to sing something amusing/soothing at the drop of a hat.

    i also had to let go of being so self-conscious of other patrons’ reactions or perceived judgments of me and my kids. any post-7pm outing is rough on a toddler. what would normally be bath/pre-bed time turns into an out-of-home time and they don’t always handle it as well as we’d like. oh well. i do practice time-outs with my girls and have since the big one was about 15mos old. i’d bumped her accidentally at some point and said “sorry”, and she repeated, so i decided it was time to put some meaning behind the word. my time-outs are always preceded by a warning (unless there’s hitting/injury involved). i tell them when i sit them down why they’re sitting for time-out and for how long (2min & 3mins – 1 min for each year of age). when their time is done i tell Baby C why she was on time-out/i ask Big J why because at 3 she not only knows when she’d misbehaving but can also put it into words. i ask “what do you say?” and they say “sorry”. we have a kiss and hug and their expected to do whatever it was they were supposed to be doing in the first place. i’m very consistent in how time-outs are carried out (wherever we are, not just at home), and i never use time-outs as a threat without following through. so when we’re out, i do keep in mind that they may be out of their comfort zone, and that they are still little and learning. i try to bring some familiar things for them to keep them occupied (lately paper and crayons). i try to still engage them in conversation even though i’m also trying to talk with another adult – a lot of acting up in a public place is out of frustration of not feeling heard or attended to. i encourage the girls to say please and thank you to the wait staff (which goes a long way when a plate or glass gets upended or a fork needs to be replaced for the umpteenth time). and i do tip well because whoever is waiting our table and managing to smile at my kids after replacing a fork for the eleventy-seventh time has earned it.

    hang in there! with enough love, attention, and patience this stage will pass.

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