So recently Elijah has been a bit of a grumpy bear. He’s currently half way through a developmental leap and it is showing! I hate using words like “bad” or “naughty” when describing his behaviour. Because he’s not being bad or naughty. He’s just a 14 month old baby learning and developing each day. His emotions are all over the place and it’s my job as his mama to ease him through every developmental stage with kindness and patience. This is something I probably didn’t do the best job of the other night.
Craig and I never get to spend family time together. We work for the same company but we have shift patterns which mean when I’m off he’s working. When he’s off I’m working. It means we hardly need childcare which is a bonus. But we NEVER see each other. I popped in a few hours annual leave one evening just for a cheeky early finish. I called Craig at 5pm on as I walked for the bus. “How’s Eli?” I asked. “He’s napping at the minute” Perfect! I thought. Normally a late nap is disastrous. It means a wild child up until silly o’clock. But today for my own selfish reasons I thought it was brilliant. “Shall we go out for tea together when he wakes up?” “Sure”. I was looking forward to it.
Elijah woke up around 6.30pm after a loooong nap. He was cranky when he first woke up. He is teething (damn molars) so we gave him some medicine and a teething gel. We said we would see how he felt and decide whether or not to go out. He seemed to really perk up and was happily playing with his kitchen and throwing a toy tomato about the room screaming “dida dida DOOOOO” (ready, steady, go).
We left to go to an Indian restaurant in Middlesbrough. We thought Elijah could have a bit of rice, chicken and vegetables. The kid loves curry. But the car journey didn’t go so well. Suddenly he was crying, shouting and rubbing his eyes. Surely he can’t be tired?! We got out of the car and walking to the restaurant he was giggling as his daddy ran around along the path and spun around in circles. Maybe he just wasn’t keen on the car.
When we got to the restaurant we sat down and I whipped out a few snacks to tide him over until the food came. We ordered a starter and main but as we were waiting Elijah’s behaviour was more and more erratic. One minute he was happily munching his snacks and babbling away. The next minute he was crying out, throwing things around and generally “acting up” (ugh I hate that phrase). I started to feel really paranoid that the other diners were looking at us wondering why the hell we were out in a restaurant at 7.30pm with a 1 year old. I felt really bad. I had totally misjudged Elijah’s mood in my desperate attempt to get some much needed family time. The lovely evening meal I had imagined in my head was turning into a disaster.
Our starters came and I offered Elijah a few potatoes which he enjoyed. But then when they were gone he got upset again. I decided it wasn’t worth him getting more upset and disturbing the other diners so I asked Craig if we should get our mains to go. He agreed.
I asked the waiter if he could pack up our mains and he got it sorted for us. When he asked why he told us that Elijah wasn’t being a bother at all and not to worry about it. But I still felt really paranoid. I knew he wasn’t being naughty. But I felt like the busy restaurant environment wasn’t the best place for him at the time. Any other day after a long nap he probably would have been buzzing and in a great mood. Today it just wasn’t happening.
We packed up and left after about 40 minutes. When we got home Craig and I sat on the couch and ate our curries and Elijah had his tea in his high chair. Even at home he was still fussing. So it was just obviously just one of those days.
I still feel awful for misjudging the whole thing but it did have me wonder how other mamas deal with tantrums in public? Do you just let them get on with it? Would you spend the time trying to calm them and stay? Or do you do what we did and pack up and leave to prevent a bigger melt down?