Out on the town with a 3 year old...
Today we decided to go out for a meal. It’s not something we do very often since the majority of the time we’re with Andrew, and eating out with a small child isn’t generally the most relaxing experience. He’s pretty good at restaurants most of the time, but it’s still a lot of work to keep him entertained. We usually agree that it’s ‘easier’ to just eat at home!
But when James suggested we go out for an early supper, I was all over the idea that I a) would not have to cook and b) would not have to clean up! Plus it would get us out for the afternoon.
Andrew was being a really good boy at home all morning, and when we suggested taking him to Red Robin he was all over it. (It’s not my favourite restaurant given there’s, like, 2 vegetarian options on the menu and neither one excites me…But it’s a family restaurant and not that far away). His current favourite colour is red, so he liked the idea that ‘Red’ Robin would be there, and there would ‘be lots of red stuff!’ We’ve only been there a few times, but he seems to love it. We headed off to the bus stop, and that’s where we probably should have just turned around and come home, but we decided to give him benefit of the doubt.
He started having a tantrum because he tried to run off down the sidewalk and we yelled at him to get back, because there were cars zooming by on the street. He didn’t like that we were forcing him to stay with us, so he started lashing out as toddlers do when they’re having a tantrum. He was crying and upset, and we both think he was in need of a nap, even though he hardly ever naps and had slept his usual the night before. We threatened to just go home if he didn’t calm down, so finally as the bus was approaching he did settle down, apologized, and said he would be a good boy.
James and I selfishly really wanted to go out and not have to cook and just be somewhere other than home…so we took Andrew’s word for it that he’d smarten up, and off we went.
When we got to the skytrain station, he started another tantrum…because we took the escalator up to the platform, and he wanted to take the stairs. There are probably more than 50 stairs, and yes we could have walked up them with him, but we didn’t want to risk missing the train since we didn’t know exactly when it would go. We were already on the escalator when he started freaking out, so we just flat out said, no, we can do that next time maybe, but this time we’re not.
Well, let’s just say he had a full on tantrum the whole time we waited for the train, and for the next 3 or 4 stops till we exited the train. Not just a little tantrum, but a full blown screaming his lungs out, freaking out, desperately trying to get out of our grasp, hitting, saying, ‘I don’t like you anymore!’, snot flying, absolute meltdown. The kind where he starts making a weird noise like he’s completely lost control, because he has. Body going rigid. If you’ve ever been around a toddler, you probably know what I’m talking about. It was totally embarrassing. There was nothing we could do to calm him down.
Finally, we were just about at our stop and we said if he didn’t calm down NOW we would just stay on the skytrain platform and catch the train back and go straight home without any supper or any fun. He finally started calming down, and by the time we’d got outside the station, he was completely over it. He apologized to both of us and said he promised to be a good boy, and honestly from there on in he was. We were originally going to go to the dollar store before heading to the restaurant to get him a colouring book or something to play with during dinner, but we didn’t want to reward his bad behaviour, so he was lucky to get to go to the restaurant at all. If we’d been driving, there’s no way we’d have gone to Red Robin, we would have gone straight home, but for how long it takes to transit, it’s so annoying the idea of going straight back home when we’re all hungry.
At the restaurant he was surprisingly happy, sat really well for the most part while we ate, and he shared a fair bit of our meals with us. He started getting restless toward the end, but that’s normal since we’d been sitting there for quite a while. So he and I left to go check out the dollar store (because I wanted to pick up a few things there myself!) and James met up with us after he paid.
He was a good boy the whole way home, happy and laughing and his usual self. It’s just so frustrating when he becomes so wilful, and holds a stupid grudge over something that shouldn’t be a big deal. I know it’s his age and it’s a phase kids go through at various stages, and I think we handled it OK. But it’s still really hard when you’re the one in that situation, and people are staring at you and you know they’re judging you based on the child’s behaviour, even though ultimately you have no control over it.
I guess we should count ourselves lucky, because while Andrew has had a few mini-tantrums in public before, this was the very first huge tantrum he’s ever put on as a public display! Let’s hope if it has to happen again, it’s not for a really long time…