K-Man, G and I were at the local kiddie crack house disguised as a pizza place last night. The Kid was running around from one shiny object (pinball!) to the next (drive the car!) with all the enthusiasm (and lack of success) of a dog chasing its tail.
In the midst of this excitement, I needed to use the facilities, which meant G had to leave her Caesar salad (strangely great for such a place) to watch K-Man. Afraid that the overeager busboy-types would snatch up her salad before she was done, G made the decision to snatch up K-Man before he was done.
I was still in the bathroom when I heard the all too familiar emergency-signal-like wail of a kid – my kid – who clearly wasn’t interested in watching mom eat for a few minutes when he wanted to keep playing. After washing my hands (see K-Man, ALWAYS wash your hands), I saw G walking back to her most-amazing-Caesar with K-Man thrashing in her arms. The way he was screaming, you’d think she was torturing him (and in his little mind, she probably was).
As I hurried to the table to scoop up K-Man and take him back to his electronic oasis, I couldn’t help but notice the glares of parents. The looks on their faces were so dramatic, I could actually read the thought-bubbles above their heads:
Oh, that poor boy. What is that horrible mother doing to him?
I can’t believe that baby is crying like that! Take him outside. Control your child!
What a terrible child. I would never tolerate such behavior.
The only thought-bubble that concerned me, though, was the one over G’s head: Just shoot me. Shoot me now. I knew that look on her face and I knew she could hear the whispers (imaginary or not) coming from the other pizza patrons.
I wanted to climb on one of the tables (which K-Man would have LOVED!) and tell everyone to mind their own damn business. While there weren’t any other toddlers in the place, there were plenty of kids (all of whom, if I understand this whole human aging thing correctly, were toddlers at one point). And, I’m guessing that every single one of those kids, at least once, melted down in public and had an absolute fit.
Since K-Man entered the world, I’ve become much more aware of screaming kids (duh). And, like many, before K-Man was around, I used to get annoyed by wailing little ones. I used to HATE being on a plane with a crying baby (again, duh). Now, however, if a kid starts crying, I don’t send the parent a dirty look; I feel some compassion. If the kid is screaming, it’s not like the parent(s) are thinking, “Sweet! My kid is miserable. I’m soooo stoked!”
I simply don’t understand how ANY parent can forget “what it was like.” I know that when K-Man is four, five or 25, I’m not going to start shooting eye-darts at any mom or dad who is tasked with calming a kid in the midst of a meltdown. The “most glaring” offenders seem to be the people who have grown kids, but perhaps no grandchildren. They seem to be loving the silence in their lives. (Which, by the way, is incongruous with the never-ending pressure given to their kids to have children.)
Yes, my kid is two-and-a-half. Yes, my kid is at an age where he’s just finding himself and understanding that there are things that HE wants to do. Yes, we our doing our best to explain how to behave in such situations. No, we aren’t always successful with that conversation. No, your evil looks don’t help.
K-Man’s fit-of-fancy ended a few moments after it began. Nothing to see here, people, move along, keep eating. He played for 10 or 15 minutes more before announcing that he wanted to go home. As we walked out, I inadvertently made eye contact with the woman who gave K-Man the biggest looks of horror during his short tirade. It was like an old-fashioned Western showdown and I felt like I was walking in slow motion. My eyes squinted like Clint Eastwood, as I visually let her know that she was welcome to make my day.
And then her kid spilled his drink all over the table, the pizza and…her. Needless to say, she had a fit. In a way, I did feel bad for her. But, payback being a [filtered word] and all, I couldn’t help but think: Geezus, woman. Teach your kid some damn table manners.
K-Man asked, “What happened, daddy?” Karma happened, K-Man. Karma.