Last weekend, my husband and I were running an errand. It was going to be a quick one, less than an hour, so I grabbed the diaper bag, a bottle, and baby and we were out. After the errand, we were going to grab some lunch before heading home when I realized my son had a major diaper blow out, so we find a parking lot in town and proceed to change him there (a more common occurrence than I ever realized it would be). But since I ran out of the house so quick (really we were lucky to get out at all) I hadn’t brought a change of clothes for him. It was a real hot day, and I went back and forth about just going home, but I was really hungry so I said fuck it, let him go out in just a diaper and tee shirt.
We walked to the Main Street of the town we were in. It’s a town I’m familiar with but don’t go out in often. My husband knows it well and asks me where I want to eat. My answer: “the most kid-friendly place.”
We walk into this cafe to see another baby in a high chair, and several other families wandered in during our stay. This isn’t the first time I’ve taken my son to a restaurant, but now that he’s a toddler it’s a different story. It’s like having a little drunk person or an alien with you- someone who can’t comprehend proper restaurant etiquette. He’s throwing food on the floor, he’s loud, he’s walking around with no shoes on staring at people as they try to enjoy their meals. I’ve gotten used to it, but I still find myself constantly correcting the actions or apologizing to people when my kid is just being a kid.
It wasn’t that long ago when I was on the other side. It’s still fresh in my mind how you could want a quiet lunch only to have someone’s toddler running amok at the table next to you. It never bothered me then but I know some people are bothered by it.
But being in that restaurant that day, seeing all the other kids and their parents doing the same things as me brought me a sense of peace and solidarity. I didn’t have to apologize every time my son climbed on a table or threw a French fry. My little boy was just being a little boy.
When I go out with friends who don’t have kids, it’s a very different experience than when I go out with friends who do have kids. It’s just a different world and it’s tough at times when you just don’t feel truly understood. I hate to say it because I hated when it was said to me but truthfully, it’s hard to understand, truly understand what it’s like until you have kids of your own in my opinion. I know I didn’t get it until now. And being around other parents experiencing the same thing gave me the validation I needed.