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.
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