Jillian R.
I'm sure by now many of you have read and/or heard about the incident at Marcy's Diner in Maine where the owner yelled at a "baby" for having a 45 minute tantrum in the busy diner on a Saturday morning. Well, as it turned out, the "baby" wasn't a baby, but a 21 month old toddler.

As a mom with a 21.5 month old myself, I could relate - well sort of.

Scarlett is a sweet little girl most of the time, she waves at strangers, blows kisses at them, says "ki-kiu" (thank you) at waiters/waitresses every time they bring something to the table, says "es-you" (love you) to everyone we know and gives hugs and kisses whenever she is asked. However, every toddler has the occasional tantrum and there is only so much we can do. In my previous post I left out parts about me spilling the contents of my purse, carry-on and "activity bag" for any last hope we might have had to calm her down. I even offered her a super special treat (chocolate, which she normally doesn't get) as a bribe but she wouldn't open her eyes to look and just kept on screaming at the top of her lungs.

Thankfully, we have been blessed with a very co-operative, sweet child for the duration of this vacation so far. She loves her grandparents and cousins and has been very well behaved in restaurants as long as there was something for her to do. Scarlett loves to color, so I ALWAYS carry a little bag of crayons and a little notebook with her favorite character on it. She would sit and color while we waited for the food to come, no matter how long it took. She's known as the little-girl-who-loves-to-color back in Abu Dhabi in most of the restaurants we like to frequent. The waitresses know her by name and they always rush out with crayons and activity sheets as we are being seated!

(I forgot to bring her notebook once, so, they offered her a take-away menu at a pizza place)

However, our latest incident happened just last night. It is not too different from the one at Marcy's Diner. We were visiting family in Syracuse. It is a four hour drive back to Eric's parents' house where we are staying so we decided to stay a night in Roscoe. We discovered this place by accident last year when we stopped for a bite on the same drive home. The Riverside Cafe & Lodge has really amazing food, on par with any five star restaurant we've been to. The place is cosy, quiet, and I don't know what's not to like about eating by the river. I will probably put up an entry on this soon, but first, let's get back to my child.

(A six-month old Scarlett at the restaurant last year. She told me the silhouette of the pig in the background is "Oink" which made me very proud)

After a two-hour drive, we arrived at the lodge, checked in, laid our bags down, strolled along the river and took lots of pictures, it was time for dinner. That was when it started. They didn't have booster seats (only high chairs) and she has, for a couple of months now, decided that she has outgrown high chairs. So she refused to sit in the high chair OR the regular chair. We managed to get her sitting in the high chair for a few minutes before she screamed to be let out. It was a quiet restaurant and we could clearly see the restaurant had a very "adult" dining atmosphere. A few diners wore dinner jackets - it was that kind of place. We tried putting her on our laps, offered her bread, nope, nothing worked. We took turns walking her around the restaurant where she pointed out taxidermied "fish", "dee-er" (deer), and everything else she saw. She pointed at the deer head and said "scared". She was also scared of "tiger, meow" (a picture/painting of leopards). She has a really vast vocabulary for a toddler who is barely two so it is never dull playing this game with her, at least.

When the salad came, I offered her the salad dressing (yes, I offered my child salad dressing!) for "dip-dip" as she loves ketchup. There was no ketchup but Ranch seemed to do the job. She stopped fussing and sat in the high chair. That lasted 10 minutes before she wanted to get up again. The strange thing was, amidst all of this, she kept waving and smiling at three elderly diners at the next table who smiled and waved back, then went back to saying "NO!! *grunt* STUCK!! HELP!! *whine* COME OUT!! DOWN!!". I wasn't going to be that mom who lets her child run amok in restaurants. So we didn't want to let her down. She kept trying to jump out of the high chair!

The waiter tried to be helpful and asked if we wanted him to bring out our orders all at once (we ordered appetizers and mains). I didn't feel that he was in any way trying to make us feel bad by the way. He was professional and genuinely seemed like he wanted to help. We told him it was alright, we will try to calm her down. Unlike the parents at the Maine diner, at the very next scream, I grabbed her out of the chair, took her out of the dining hall and very calmly made her apologize. She did. With tears in her eyes, and snot running down her mouth, she said "Sorryyyyyyy", gave me a hug and a kiss on each cheek and lips and we went back to the table. She still didn't want to sit in the high chair but she did sit in the regular chair (on her knees) and quietly ate her food with dip-dip the rest of the meal. She even made a few new friends - she told the other diners her name - "Scar-yett" and how old she was - "Two!" and everybody waved goodbye and many kisses were blown back and forth as we were leaving.

So, in conclusion, in my humble opinion as a 21.5 month old mother, I say, unless your child just waited in the airport for over 6 hours, and flew 13 hours quietly and cheerfully, they CAN be calm and quiet in the restaurant. A two-year old CAN be reasoned with, there is no need for everyone else to sit through your child's tantrums. Unless we're really talking about a baby who cannot tell us what's wrong, there is always something we can do.
Jillian R.
We've successfully escaped the Abu Dhabi heat. We're still pretty jetlagged but the weather is so pleasant it's hard not to enjoy it to the fullest before we return to 50C (and over 90% humidity, there was one day that was 100% and it did not rain! How?! Why?!) heat. Just thinking about it drains all the joy out of me! 

Also, I've finally found the strength to write about our flight into the States.

The flight from Dubai to New York takes about 13 hours. However, because we live in Abu Dhabi, we had to take a 90 minute taxi ride to get to the airport. We arrived four hours early because Dubai International Airport happens to be the busiest airport in the world, and I wanted to check-in as early as we can to ensure that we secure bulk head seats for our flight so that Scarlett, who does not require her own seat yet is able to use the baby bassinet during the flight. When we arrived at the check-in counter, we were the first and only ones there, and got the seats we wanted - because unlike some folks, we are only flying Economy and those extra few inches of leg room mean EVERYTHING when it comes to flying with a two year old! The flight ended up being delayed for an hour and a half. Then another hour with us sitting in the aircraft. 

At the airport: Who needs a stroller when you can just ride mommy's suitcase?

Apart from the delay, everything worked out very well thus far! Scarlett entertained herself by running around the terminal, coloring and waving "hi" to tired looking strangers equally dreading their 13-hour flight. Everything went extremely well on the flight as well, I was so afraid it was not possible to eat meals with Scarlett on my lap if she wasn't napping in the bassinet, but as it turned out, it WAS do-able. I never knew that I was capable of eating and feeding a toddler in such a small space. I mean, we're talking about a tiny, little tray with no seat in front to stop the whole meal from flying off onto my pants! Everything was going according to plan! Scarlett stuck to her usual nap and sleep routine and seemed to be enjoying the flight. She charmed flight attendants and passengers around us with her sweetness.

She thought the flight attendants were "ah-cess" (princesses)!

Everything was going SO WELL! Too well!

Then we arrived at JFK airport Immigration *insert dramatic music*.

We had been travelling for about 18-20 hours at this point, I've lost count. Our flight's two-hour delay meant that we arrived at the same time as other flight(s) coming into the US. THOUSANDS Hundreds of people swarmed the Immigration lines, which were not all opened because it was a little past midnight. We were sent to the "Visitor" line which had twice the number of people than the line for US citizens or green card holders - even though I was travelling with TWO U.S. citizens. The woman directing the lines was obviously feeling a bit grumpy that night. Usually, even it was just me and my American husband, we were sent to the citizen line. Rules are rules, I get it. 

Anyway, we were waiting in line for about an hour and the end of the line was still nowhere in sight. Scarlett decided not to take it anymore.

She had possibly the worst tantrum of her 22 month of life! I'm not even joking. Blood curdling screams echoed through the entire hall. I don't think there was one person who didn't hear her screams. We spent the next 30 minutes trying to calm her down. We tried everything, I mean everything! Nothing worked. People around us tried to help, a woman offered to help push our luggage forward as the line moved forward an inch at a time. After getting screamed at for nearly an hour, I yanked her into the restroom and splashed cold water on her face. That merely stunned her for a few seconds, but it seemed to have angered her more! She started laying and screaming on the restroom floor. As we walked out of the restroom with me holding my squirming, kicking, screaming child by the belly, I heard "Tsk, tsk, tsk" coming from the bench beside the restroom door. I wanted very badly to let Scarlett scream in their ear for 10 minutes, then we shall see if they could still tsk me! I was merely minutes away from losing it myself.

We got back into line, Scarlett continued eardrum bursting screams. I lost it. Any sanity I had left was gone. There was nothing else Eric and I could do. I was sure everyone hated us. I couldn't even bear to look anyone in the eye. Then an immigration officer came and took us, "the hated people" to the front of the line, where we only had to wait for about five more people to get through. Still, the screams continued. When I say screams, I don't mean cries by the way, I really mean screams, screams that shreds your soul. A few minutes later, another officer pulled us out of line and took us to a closed booth, which he opened just for us. I was crying at this point. Yes, mother and daughter were both crying. Through blurry, teared eyes I could see people looking judgingly at us, tissues were handed to me. For a few minutes I couldn't see the hundreds of judging eyes anymore. Oh, Scarlett was still screaming this whole time, there was no break.

Somewhere on file is my U.S Immigration picture, puffy, red eyes and tear streaked face.

On the bright side, if it wasn't for her crazy tantrum, we'd still be standing in line right now, and there wouldn't be this entry to read.
Jillian R.
I'm painting my toe nails and feel like I'm wasting precious minutes waiting for them to dry before the next coat goes on. So, I will share another one of my stories-from-the-desert with you.

I've probably mentioned before how many times, on a daily basis actually, that I get mistaken for being Filipino here - by Filipinos themselves! Not that there's anything wrong with being Filipino. It could very well be Eskimo, it's still annoying being mistaken for being from some place you are not AND then being spoken to in that country's language. Anyway, Filipino is my thing. Usually there's "Ma'am you are Filipino?" or "Are you Filipino", but many times it's just straight "Tagalog, tagalog, tagalog" and I have to stop them by saying "I'm NOT FILIPINO!". Ah, and there's also the arguing! After I tell them I'm not Filipino, they ARGUE with me, "Oh! But you look like Filipino, ma'am!" - which I don't think I do!

Once, I was scolded by a Filipino sales person. Yes, scolded!! Scarlett was being a pain (as usual!) during grocery shopping and insisted on pushing our shopping cart, which she couldn't, but wanted to try anyway. As I walked passed this sales person, she said in a reprimanding tone, and again, by now I can always guess what they are saying, she was scolding me in Tagalog that Scarlett could get hurt pushing the cart. I stopped and said, "EXCUSE ME! I don't know what you are saying, but I'm not Filipino and this is my daughter, I know what I'm doing!" Immediately, her tone changed completely and she apologized "Ma'am sorry, I thought you were Filipino". She explained that she saw a kid's foot being run over by a shopping cart wheel before. I understand that her intention was well-meaning, but still, she suddenly earned the right the scold a shopper if they were Filipino?! I feel offended FOR Filipinos, really!

Yesterday, we were last-minute shopping for travel stuff. At the checkout, the cashier started speaking Tagalog with me, from her gestures I understood that she was asking me if the snack that Scarlett was eating needs to be rung up, or something like that. I told her "No, I brought it from home, and by the way, I'm NOT FILIPINO!"

She was apologetic but Eric was there and they had the following exchange:-

Eric: Are you Vietnamese?

Cashier: Oh no sir, I'm not!

Eric: I thought you were Vietnamese

Cashier: Oh no, I'm Filipino!

Eric: Oh sorry, I should have asked where you were from.

Cashier: Oh sorry, sir, but most English (she meant Caucasian) men marry Filipinos. So I thought your wife is Filipino.

I was a bit disturbed by the whole thing on so many levels! 

Later on, Eric told me he felt offended for Filipino men! Apparently most Filipino women run off and marry Caucasian men, what what she was implying. What happens to all the men?

Anyway, nails are dry now, will write again soon from the Big Apple, I hope!

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