A look at how parents should handle these sticky situations.
Public Temper Tantrums
You and your spouse are enjoying a lovely pair of sirloins in a local, family friendly pub when your toddler decides that he’s had enough of his chicken nuggets and starts chucking the ketchup-covered fried circles all over the place. You both start sweating and desperately try to convince the rug rat that the Goldfish crackers and milk in the moose cup are really yummy. “Just puhleeze stop throwing food honey,” you plead.
Alas, it’s to no avail as the little one starts howling, “I wanna go home.”
If having one parent walk him around the restaurant or outside doesn’t work, you have little choice. You must leave. And don’t forget the doggie bag. That’s the responsible, mature thing to do. You don’t want to cause a scene and upset the other diners. And you clearly shouldn’t let the kid throw food or run around the joint yanking tablecloths off tables. Pack up your food and eat in the car if you have to. And while you’re in the car, if the child needs discipline, you can do your scolding in there where the only people who’ll likely get heartburn will be you and your spouse.
I’ve seen parents let their kids run amok, scream and otherwise raise cain in restaurants and other public places. That winds up ruining everyone’s dinner and it’s irresponsible. I don’t blame the kids. They’ll only do what they’re allowed to do by their parents.
Wedgwood and Waterford
Back to that relative’s house where delicate breakables like Wedgwood and Waterford are on display, easily within reach of your 18-month-old. Yes, the items are lovely, but you don’t feel like replacing the antique candy dish your love bug is about ready to smash against the glass-covered coffee table, do you?
The easiest solution? Remove the items from the table yourself. Scan the room for other things your kid could either break or hurt himself on. Apologize to your hostess, but tell her that it’s either move the items or have them broken or your child hurt. If the hostess balks or seems put off, make a mental note to have her over to your house next time.
It’s not worth spending three hours glued to your child’s side, stopping him from grabbing things, blocking him from everywhere and having to say, “No honey, no touch,” every 20 seconds. You and everyone else will go nutty.
You and your child are in the presence of a group of children and notice obviously sick kiddos in your midst. You groan, knowing that in a few days, you’ll be buying tissue in bulk and stocking up on the pediatric cough suppressant for your cherub.
If your kid has a fever, is coughing like she has tuberculosis, has open sores, pink eye or has assorted yellowy/green mucus emanating from various bodily orifices, keep the kid home. Even if you know your child isn’t contagious and is simply in the middle of a run-of-the-mill cold, other moms are going to freak if they see globs of yellow snot running out of your child’s nose, particularly if you have a toddler who’s still mouthing toys or lets the mucus run onto other toys.
If your child simply has a runny nose with clear mucus, you could allow your child to play with other kids, but you need to be vigilant about making sure the child’s nose is wiped.
We all know that it’s no fun to be cooped up in the house with a sick kid. Sure you want to get out, have a real, adult conversation, but wait until your child is truly and overtly on the mend.
As to what to do when your healthy child is playing with an obviously sick child, your reaction really depends on your relationship with the parents. If you feel comfortable, you could ask the parent how long the child has been sick, what type of symptoms were exhibited and whether or not he’s contagious. If that’s not enough to convince the parent that he or she has made an error in bringing the sick child out, make up and excuse and whisk your kid outta there. Either that, or keep your kid focused on a toy in the other side of the room, bring your child to wash her hands and keep your fingers crossed.
No one likes a know-it-all. And parents of young children have a particular antipathy toward this kind of person.
It’s natural to have the urge to offer your own experiences and advice to a fellow parent (like what I’m doing with this very article). You want to help. You want to use your mistakes as an educational experience for others.
Resist the urge unless you’re directly asked for your input. Unsolicited advice makes people crazy. What’s worse is advice doled out with a tone of moral superiority. (Think: “You give your baby regular baby food? I’ve read that that stuff is loaded with chemicals and preservatives and causes cancer. Gotta go organic. If you love your baby, it’s the only way.”)
Yeah, I almost always think that my way of doing things is the best for my children. Every parent does. But I am routinely seeking counsel from other moms to see how they deal with situations, what products they like, how they discipline. I take an informal survey of what a variety of people think and then make my best, educated decision.
What I can’t stand are those people who think that I am hapless and tell me how to do everything from dealing with my teething baby to my feuding four-year-olds. I haven’t yet come up with a smart, sassy retort to these intrusions on my parenting. By the time I come up with one, I’ll likely be a grandmother.
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