Sugar + Toddler + Restaurant = Fail

So my well-intentioned, but highly cocky “respect” discipline philosophy first mentioned here ran head first into a brick wall last night. And it died a slow and gurgly death. Because I am a shit show. And disciplining a toddler in public is difficult. Because they own you. They’ve got you right by your short-hairs. They know it. And you know it.

Cue yesterday afternoon. We had a lovely day. Ryan’s parents came in town. We played outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We put up some vintage outdoor lights and did some landscaping. And Nina had way too many fun sweets. But that’s okay–we bend the rules when the grandparents are here.

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Pre-crack. Note the calm, organized sweetness.
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Post-crack. Notice the boundless energy and that hint of mischief in her eyes. I should have seen this coming.

SOOO we decided to go to one of our go-to places for homey food and amazing atmosphere: The County Line on Bull Creek, where you can feed the abundant turtles and fish and ducks after stuffing your face full of yummy BBQ. Love this place for kiddos and would highly recommend it for families in the Austin area. Watching those turtles is hypnotizing!

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Beautiful Bull Creek

The thing is, Nina was not only completely full from the overindulgence in goodies, but completely wired. Like on crack. And so she proceeded flip out and hit me, as a game, non stop, throughout dinner. This is not a violent child. Every time I gave her a warning to not hit me again or it’s a timeout, she grinned and hit me again. And you gotta go through with a threat. So crap. Time out. Yet again. Away from everyone. Outside.

AAAAAND it backfired on me. That beautiful spring air was essentially a REWARD for bad behavior. So by the third timeout, it finally dawned on me to find a quiet room and have her face the wall in a chair for 2 minutes. Nope. That didn’t work either. She played me like a fiddle the whole time. Her muffled giggles while she shimmied in her chair to the head-shoulders-knees-and-toes tune were like sirens of defiance. And then she asked for more timeout time. Because what’s more fun than a party of one when you’re the star? C.R.A.P.

If it was just us, we would have packed up and left. But we were stuck there at dinner. I was getting increasingly upset because she NEVER acts like this. My husband wanted me to ignore her or switch places with him to break the cycle. But I had had enough. I told them I’d wait for them in the truck and left with her. When everyone joined us I broke down in sobs on my mother-in-law’s shoulder and she said, “motherhood is the hardest thing you’ll ever love.” This is just one kid. I am such a wimp! And I hold any mama with more than one kid in such high regard–don’t know how you do it.

But then this morning, Nina asked me as I was helping her get dressed, “you okay, mom? I hit you. I sorry.” And my normal sweet girl returned. Those glittery, mischevious little devil horns must have broken off in her sleep last night. Lesson learned: Over-stimulated, over-exhausted, and over-sugared shit happens.

So how do you do it, mamas? During those times of meltdown crises, what do you do? Remove the child from the situation? Ignore it? Talk sternly? Threaten? Give ’em the stink-eye? For real. I would love to hear your honest, solid advice. I am in need of some tried-and-true ideas that don’t require a 100 pages of book reading. And I’ll take a mama’s advice over a book any day anyway.

Photos by ChicEtChoc and Austin Wedding Day.

One comment

  1. Abby says:

    hmmmm…this is a difficult one. I would say, for short term relief avoid restaurants all together until she gets just a little bit older. We would instead have family gatherings at the house and it was always much more pleasant. Of course, that’s not always ideal. In restaurants, boredom is the enemy. So stock your purse with toys and activities. For the long game, I would recommend eating dinner at home at the table as much as possible. At home is where you teach good table manners, and that eventually translates to well-behaved children in public. Plus you discipline them in seclusion away from judging eyes. Just some helpful hits, good luck!

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