I don’t know what is wrong with my kids. It’s like the school year started and with it came a complete disregard for any behavior that is acceptable and not acceptable in my house. I do not tolerate bad behavior but do understand children having a bad day. So I have been known to give minor misjudgments a pass. However, the big stuff, like what will always be known as the tantrum night from hell, will always be dealt with and punishment will be activated. Tonight will be another night when I have to pull on my big girl parenting panties and be a follow through mom. It all started when I had to yank my three kids out of the booth at Denny’s before we even got our food.
All I wanted to do was take my three beautiful, loving daughters out to dinner and maybe for ice cream the night before they head to their dad’s for the weekend. I do it before every weekend with him. I want them to have pleasant memories should, God forbid, something happen. That’s all I wanted.
They got off the bus; Katie upset because despite doing 4 pages of math homework last night, she got in trouble at school for doing the wrong 4 pages, Megan because her father caters to her and when she went to dinner with him last night, he told her he would buy her everything in the American Girl store – so she wanted to go… NOW!; and Sarah, well, she is my sweetheart. She had no issues and has not through this entire thing.
But I let it all go. After all, it is my last night with them for the weekend.
But alas, the bad moods and attitudes continued. The rule is, we go to dinner when the floors in their rooms are visible. Sarah and Megan jumped right in, clearing a path for all to walk but Katie chose to read instead. Determined not to ruin the night, I let it slide and made her pick up 20 books on the library floor… which she stopped to read at every turn.
As the hour or so progressed they asked if they could have friends come too, which I tried to arrange and could not. They asked if they could go to their favorite ice cream place, I conceded imaging a loving evening of laughter and hugs. They asked if they could order this and that and everything else. I was fine with it, I just wanted to see the floor so we could go. I was HUNGRY!!!
So we headed to Denny’s, because you know we love it, and almost made it without complaint. I say almost because have you seen people drive these days?
In any event, we walked in and before we did, Katie mentioned that it is always cold in this particular Denny’s and suddenly did not want to go. Well… too… flippin’… bad!! We were here, 30 minutes later than I wanted, I was HUNGRY and they all had to be hungry. Despite the constant snacking at home after school.
With a quick, ‘this is where we are eating or starve’, we all made it into the restaurant without hitch. The warm, loving feeling of motherhood almost returned until we got to the table and all three of them wanted to sit next to me.
I bargained and played the mental games parents play and got all but one happily in their seats. Katie was not happy. So I promised she could sit next to me at the next restaurant and she calmed down. The waiter came and took our drink order and I tried to settle in and help the kids choose their meals. Katie wanted something not on the kid menu so I told her she could get whatever she wanted.
A moment of quiet is all I remember.
Suddenly, Megan threw a crayon at Katie, Katie threw one back at Megan and Sarah just watched. I told them that was unacceptable behavior and if it happened again, we were leaving.
You can guess, it happened again.
Except this time if came with an outburst of ‘I hate you’ and parts of the kids menu, previously torn in anger, went flying over the table. Mind you, we were there for a late dinner and not many were in the restaurant but I was all done bargaining.
I stood my HUNGRY self up, threw a $20 on the table for the unserved drinks and tip the waiter would have missed, and told them we were leaving and marched out, only Sarah on my heels. I got to the car fully expecting to have the other two come running out. Only Sarah was there.
Now I was mad. And embarrassed. And mad. Really, really mad.
Marching back into the restaurant, I see both Megan and Katie sitting in the booth as if nothing happened, their heads turned towards the door, sure I would return. I marched over, grabbed them both by the arms and dragged the out, the kids complaining the whole way. I believe I said, ‘We don’t act that way in restaurants!’ to assuage any patron from thinking these were kids that needed police help.
It’s sad we have to think that way these days….
In the car they both were screaming that they wanted to go back but I was all done. If I don’t follow through now, nothing I do in the future will make any impact.
So here I sit, a splitting headache from a failed night that I had high hopes for, again questioning my parenting ability, knowing I did the right thing but still fearing judgement, wishing I had a mulligan to play.
And I am still hungry.
PS: The kids had macaroni for dinner. Yay me.