I recently took my kids out to dinner and we were seated near what appeared to be a grandmother and grandfather out with their granddaughter. The little girl was probably about 18 months old. She was sitting in a highchair happily playing and clapping her hands while the grandparents ate their meal peacefully. As I watched and observed during our meal I thought of my own parents, and my grandparents and just how much they must think our generation is a bunch of straight out pansies when it comes to parenting.
When I saw these grandparents with their granddaughter I assumed that the babysitting hand-off went something like this: “Hey mom and dad. Thanks for watching Baby Girl tonight. Here is the diaper bag and suitcase full of toys/clothes/diapers/blankets/baby bathtub/and baby monitor. Here are her favorite books and I wrote a little note giving you some tips about getting her to sleep and what to do if she wakes up in the middle of the night. We’ll be here around 10 to pick her up in the morning. Thank you so much!” “Oh no problem, dad and I were thinking of taking her out to eat for a quick bite tonight.” “Oh…ok. Are you sure? I mean, she’s not the greatest at restaurants. Make sure it’s a peanut free restaurant, OK? And don’t feed her table food, we haven’t introduced all of the solids yet. I’ll have Bob put the carseat in the car for you.” “A carseat? Can’t I just hold her on my lap? That’s what I did with you kids.” “Um, no. She is still rear-facing because she is only 18.2 pounds and the minimum weight for forward facing carseats is 20 pounds. Make sure she stays rear-facing mom, it’s REALLY IMPORTANT.” “*Sigh*” “Oh, and MAKE SURE you only lay her on her back to sleep tonight! She cannot sleep on her stomach yet.” “But dear, that’s how you slept every night since the day you were born!” “Mom, no. That is so dangerous.” “*Sigh*” “Oh, and please make sure that you don’t have the TV on that often and if you do, move her into a different room. We really don’t want her exposed to screens that often.” “But honey, we have some shows DVR’d that we were going to watch tonight.” “Mom, her brain will react negatively to much stimulation from all of the colors and motion on the TV. No TV. Please.” “*Sigh*” “OK, thanks again! See you tomorrow!” (Insert hugging and kissing as if parents will never see Baby Girl again.) Grandparents look at each other and roll their eyes and say to Baby Girl, “Your mommy and daddy are crazy! Yeeessss….craaaazzzzyyy. Yeeesss. Ooohh, my sweet little baby girl you have weally weally cwazy pawents!”
Now here’s why grandparents are awesome. Most parents of young children at restaurants, especially those children still in highchairs, come armed with a diaper bag full of toys, books, teething rings, biter biscuits, and sippy cups. The hostess of the restaurant sometimes comes around and attaches a balloon to the back of the high chair and the mother frantically keeps the balloon away from the baby’s face in fear of suffocation. Baby tries to reach for silverware, as worried parents snatch it away gasping, “No! Sharp! No no no!”
This is how these grandparents that I observed handled dinner. Baby Girl was in the high chair. Grandparents ordered a pitcher of beer and a glass of water. Grandparents fed Baby Girl water through a straw and fed her ice cubes to suck on. Baby Girl smiled and clapped. Grandparents talked to each other, not Baby Girl. Baby Girl survived and laughed at the ceiling. Baby Girl started to get fussy. Grandmother took off her chunky fashion-jewelry necklace and handed it to Baby Girl. Baby Girl played happily with chunky necklace until food arrived. Grandparents ate their meal while Baby Girl played with necklace. Baby Girl sucked on a french fry. Check arrived, grandparents paid, Baby Girl smiled, laughed, left–alive, happy, and well–with Grandparents.
In a time when our generation of young parents are overthinking every move we make in regards to safety, education, nutrition, and the overall well-being of our children, our parents must think they’ve raised a bunch of uptight crazy people–and it’s true! We are uptight and crazy! I would love to go back to when I was two and see how my parents handed me off to their parents on a Friday night. I can take a pretty solid guess that my parents were pretty stoked to get their Friday night sans children started and didn’t stress too much about how many toys or outfits were packed for a 12-hour overnight stay. Why do we assume that since our parents have been out of the baby stage that they automatically forgot what to do? They raised us–we’re alive and well–they couldn’t have been that bad at it!
If I knew that all it took for a baby to behave at a restaurant was a necklace, ice cube, and the ceiling, I would have dropped that motherf’ing diaper bag in a second!
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