There have been many moments since I’ve been a mom that I wish I could take back. Two weeks ago, for example, I told my son he was acting like a jerk. Yah. I know. I called him a jerk. That was pretty bad. But I think I went a tad bit lower last week when I actually said to him, “Could you please stop asking me questions about Jesus?” Yes. I actually told him to stop asking about Jesus. I’m a Christian for crying out loud! I just couldn’t take any more questions! And those are just two of my most recent foibles- trust me, there are many, many more.
Luckily, most of these low points have been reached within the privacy of my own home or car- except for the fact that I confess them to all of you in bloggy world. This past Thursday, however, I took bad parentingout on the open road. I went public. Oh ya. I got myself a verbal slap from a 70 year old woman in a coffee shop for my bad parenting skills. And let me tell you. I . Wanted. To. Die.
Let me set the scene. After a long day of camp, choosing family pictures, and errands I sent my two angels upstairs for nap and quiet time. At 3:45 I pulled them both from their rooms and put them in the car to travel to a coffee shop to meet a friend. Now I thought this was a good idea. I had to give a friend her new belt I picked up for her and thought it would be nice to get out of the house during the “witching hours” all mothers detest. A little car ride, some time dancing to the Ipod, a little muffin or scone for a treat, a nice ride home, more dancing to the Ipod and poof! It would be 6:00 and time for dinner. Another day put to rest. Right?
Yeeeeaaaahhhhh….. not exactly how it turned out. I arrived at the coffee shop with two young boys and nothing for them to do. That’s right. I didn’t bring a book, a toy, a crayon… nothing! And I was meeting with a friend who doesn’t have kids so there weren’t even any other kids to keep them entertained. What in God’s name was I thinking? Did I think they were going to sit in the comfy high back leather chairs of It’s A Grind and read the New York Times? Did I think they were going to participate in a discussion about Friend’s upcoming dates this weekend? The answer is no. I actually didn’t think about any of it- at all.
So within the first 5 minutes of our arrival the wheels begin to come off the bus- rather quickly. Now mind you, there were 3 people in a corner having some sort of business meeting and 3 girls working behind the counter and that’s all. It wasn’t crowded by any means, but what went down wasn’t appropriate by a long shot. After scarfing down their shared blueberry muffin, my sweet boys began to wrestle on the bench of a booth. I called them back over and settled them down. Then they began to jump up and down on a piece of poppy package filler (You know the stuff filled with air you can put in a package you’re mailing?) They finished that but by the time I realized it, one of the employees picked it up off the floor and threw it in the trash making me seem like one of “those” moms that doesn’t clean up after her kids. I totally would have picked it up, by the way. Next, they began to run in circles around our group of sophisticated leather chairs- chasing each other.
After taking a break from chasing, my oldest son crossed paths with an older woman carrying a cup of tea and on her way to another grouping of chairs. Now to be honest, my son did not see the woman as he was walking (yes, he was walking not running) so when he cut her off as she was heading to her chair, he really didn’t know. She did not looked pleased. Eventually the Indy500 began again as the boys resumed their game of chasing one another around the chairs.
And then it happened… I made eye contact with the woman my older son had accidentally cut off. She shot daggers in my direction, took a deep breath and said, “This isn’t a playground, you know.” And my heart just stopped. I had been completely called-out for having no control over my kids as they acted like banshees in a coffee shop. It. Was. Awful. I slowly turned back to my friend with my eyes as big as saucers and said, “I think it’s time for us to go.” I grabbed my kids- angry and embarrassed- and shoved them into the car. As I drove home I began to lecture (I was actually yelling, but I’m trying to make myself look a little better.) the boys about appropriate behavior in public.
In that moment it hit me. This wasn’t their fault. Yes, they know better than to run around in a restaurant, I’ve at least taught them that. But, in all honesty, I brought them to a coffee shop expecting to chat with my friend. I didn’t bring anything for them to do. I didn’t stop them or redirect them or even attempt to move outside. This was a case of poor parenting at its finest and nothing more. So I recovered from my rant, apologized to my kids for yelling, calmly reminded them about correct behavior and then apologized again for not thinking to bring something for them to do.
No, it was not one of my finer moments as a mom. No, I could not have been more embarrassed. Yes, it was mostly my fault. Yes, I want to find that woman and apologize and prove that I am a good mom. But, in reality, that’s never going to happen. So I will use this painful and embarrassing lesson to plan a head a little better and have reasonable expectations of my kids. Didn’t I just post about learning that my boys are just boys? I don’t know about little girls because I have none, but little boys in a confined space with nothing to do and a highly distracted mom is a recipe for disaster. Especially when there’s a woman trying to enjoy a nice cup of afternoon tea.