Last week we visited friends at their place. Kids where having fun and time ran by so quickly that we messed up my son’s dinner schedule. When we left the place we decided to stop at a restaurant for dinner instead of reaching our flat since it would have take too much time.
We picked a random Italian restaurant nearby and asked for a table with a high chair for our 2 year old son. He was obviously super tired meaning that he was super cranky. He was annoyed by everything and screamed every now and then for no apparent reason. Close to us there was another table with 4 ladies on their 50s or more having what I think it was a pre-Christmas gathering.
Every time Enea (my son) was screaming, we tried to calm him down and make him understand that it was not allowed to scream in public places and I can ensure you we tried everything to distract him. If you have kids, you know that sometimes is just not working as you expect and with such small kids sometimes there’s not much to do.
I also looked at the table next to us with a face that was showing all my apologies for the noise made. I was going to call the waiter since it was taking too long to get our order and I was almost going to apologise with the ladies when my son made another scream.
Instantly, one of the woman sitting next to us yelled at my son in German “Hey, we are trying to have a conversation here”. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. My blood started boiling and reaching my head as I struggled for a couple of seconds with my not so appropriate German vocabulary for the situation, my shame for the inconvenience caused to the people in the restaurant and the anger of such a bad reaction to a toddler.
Promptly I found the right German words to answer “What can I say? We are trying to calm him down. Don’t you see that he is just 2 years old? Only 2 years old: I can’t just shut his mouth. Do you have kids?”. To that question after few seconds, someone answering “Yes, I do”. I haven’t notice which one of the ladies answered but I think it was not the same that shouted at my son. With all the anger I had in my body I answered back “..then maybe you forgot how is it to have kids”.
How can someone react like this to someone’s else child with such a wrath and a total lack of empathy? As I said, I was almost going to apologise for my son’s behaviour and we were just waiting for the right moment to give him the tablet to watch cartoons. Yes, we are that sort of parents and even if we do feel sorry about it, we still use it when we need help.
Before having kids we always had a negative idea of using the tablet in a restaurant to entertain children. But parenthood change your mind on a lot of things and at a certain point the only thing you want is enjoy as much as possible a dinner in peace with the tools you have. I totally understand it now and this is the reason why I do not judge parents anymore. Being a parent is so hard and we all need to please ourself a bit more and survive to some of the bad moment that comes with it.
Since we still haven’t ordered, my husband asked me if I wanted to leave. I was not going to have my son eating 2/2,5 hours later than usual just because of some mannerless women. The waiter came, made a joke to Enea to calm him down and took our order.
After the episode the dinner went fine but I couldn’t calm myself down and enjoy the moment. All I wanted was to have dinner with my family and the only thing I was actually feeling was anger and bitterness due to the situation.
Throughout the dinner, one of the ladies was constantly looking at us and I am pretty sure she had something to say about our son watching cartoons at the table.
I really wanted to say more and you cannot understand how much I would have likes to be able to answer back in German in such situations and really express myself. Oh yeah, I had tons of things to say such “I am sorry that my son spoiled your lovely dinner with your friends and I envy you for having the time to enjoy this moment. I totally understand that you want to go out and not be bothered with noises and screams while talking to people and I apologise for that. Why didn’t you just raised your concerns in a more polite way? What the hell makes you think you have the right to talk like that to a toddler? A toddler that is not yours? To a stranger? Oh, you really are feeling the Christmas mood, don’t you? Why not just trying to help two parents in a difficult situation by making a funny face to their son? Why not ask: do you need help? Is there anything I can do? “.
This is ALL I wanted to say and helping out is what I would have done in that situation.
Don’t get me wrong: I totally understand someone wanting to enjoy a nice dinner in peace (Oh yes, I totally do) but understanding does not means I also have to accept such rude behaviour.
I believe I needed to write this down to make peace with myself and accept that I did my best to handle the situation in the best way possible with my knowledge of German. I just can’t understand how someone can react like this.
I also want to ask you something that is really important to me: when you see parents in a difficult situation with a cranky kid, just try to emphasise with them by smiling, making a funny face to the child or ask if they need help. It will make you feel better and most of all it will make them feel better even if you do not succeed in your intent. They will remember it, I can assure you that.
Thank you to all the people and strangers our there that made a funny face to my son while in the metro, a supermarket or somewhere else to help us out. I truly appreciated it.