Sunday, March 16, 2008

I do not think that word means what you think it means

So much is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty. Art. Well-behaved children.

I've been reading a lot of blogs, and there are many people who post and say, "We'd like to go to restaurant x. We have a well-behaved two-year old, so..." At that point I tune out. There really is no such thing as a well-behaved two-year old, to other patrons who do not have children with them. They can be cute, they can be precious, but they are two and as such should not be expected to be well-behaved. I guess it depends on what your definition of well-behaved is. Do you mean they don't throw screaming fits? Okay, then your child is not ill-behaved, but that doesn't mean they are well-behaved. Do you mean they obey when you tell them no (at least the second or third time)? Okay, maybe.

However, if your definition of well-behaved is a child who sits quietly and isn't disruptive in any way, then that is not possible-- if your child is developmentally normal and healthy. They will throw their food around, because they do not have the best manual dexterity to get said food to their mouths. They will demand attention, because they are two and that is their job. If you are not paying attention to them, they will drop things for you to pick up. If you take things away, they will get mad-- again, they are two, and that is their job! They are in the process of defining the world, and that takes a lot of time and energy.

Parents, understand that your toddler is supposed to be like that, and don't subject other patrons in restaurants or movie theaters to a definition of well-behaved that still impinges on their enjoyment. Get a babysitter, get takeout, or wait before going out to a non-family establishment-- I promise, if you are being a MeanMommy, they will soon be a joy to take out in public.


Marta said...

You should have called this post:
Debunking the Myth of the Well-Behaved Two-Year-Old."
I love that you're not afraid to say this stuff out loud. =D

Charm said...

In general, I can agree with this. It seemed more likely that we would go out for a quiet meal only to hear other people's kids screaming and misbehaving rather than ours though.

I don't recall having any real problems when we took our kids out to eat with us when they were little. There were some times we went out and places we did not take them, but we were usually complimented on their behavior. We were more likely to take our kids out with us than to leave them with a sitter though. There was only one time I can remember one of our kids being especially fussy in a restaurant, and it turned out that he was sick.

He ended up vomiting in our booth as we hurriedly tried to finish the last few bites of food that we could eat, and lessen the "damage" before we made our escape. Yeah, it does sound bad . . . Desperate times called for desperate measures.

I suppose it is possible that I have blocked out other bad two year-old moments though. ;)