Saturday, 14 August 2010

How to be made to feel like a bad mother in one easy move.

So the other day, I took the children to the Trafford Centre. I was trying to get them out of the way because we are having to deal with night shifts at the moment and it's better if the house is quietish during the day.

I decided to take them somewhere for lunch. It's a place we have eaten at before, and had coffee at a few more times. Mostly, they were pretty good although they have a fascinations for toilets and kept going to the toilet.

However, after the meal, they reached their boredom threshold very quickly and started to get up. I was trying to finish off my large coffee as quickly as I could and I'd asked for the bill, but they kept getting up and wandering around and I kept telling them to sit down.

Eventually, Monkey - for whatever reason - hid under a table but did so with his feet sticking out. I got up and called him quite sharply to get out and get up. And then the manager appeared. He got Monkey out of there and brought him over to the table and got Missy Woo to sit down. He smiled and half-winked at me and then proceeded to explain that they can't go running around because the waiting staff are carrying hot drinks etc. They said sorry and the guy went away. I paid the bill and couldn't get them out of there fast enough.

Now, I appreciate that the guy was a) explaining to them what is basic health and safety and b) trying to help me, but I walked away from that place feeling like an unfit mother and a bloody awful one at that. True, they weren't on their best day that day as they were a bit full of it and possibly we should have gone to the Food Court but it is a lively place anyway, I had been trying to control them, and it was only for a few minutes.

I almost feel too ashamed to go back now. Should I feel this way about it? I am normally pretty firm with my kids; they know where they stand with me but sometimes, they just have the devil in them and ignore what I say. This was one of those times. I'd be interested in your thoughts because I don't want to be the mother that can't control her kids.

29 comments:

  1. Ignore him... he was probably trying to help and didn't realise how it felt to you... I generally let mine get told off by strangers as they respond better to them. Most staff in the service industry must realise we are the mid-way point of the school hols and lots of mummies and daddies are at the "need a break" point!

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  2. Really, don't worry about it. We all have days like that and you are definitly not the only one. The manager was just trying to do the responsible thing in terms of the restaurant. The fact that he didn't have a go at you and tried to be lighthearted showed that he understood.

    You should jump back on the horse and go back as soon as possible. Hopefully you can use the experience to say to your kids 'Now you don't want the manager to come and tell you off like last time' - at least that is what I would do. I would probably also add lots of bribes just to make sure it all works out ok.

    Parenting is hard enough without worrying what other people think of your parenting skills. You know what your kids are like, you know what you are like as a mother. Nothing else matters.

    Hope you find the courage to go back again with kids. Good luck.

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  3. I get the looks all the time, people often tell me I have my hands full. Yes the boys can cause issues, but life is too short to worry about what other people think. They will be all grown up far too soon!

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  4. Thanks. Generally, it's not real naughtiness but exuberance on their part and they are not thinking but I know people without kids find it intensely annoying if they are trying to have a nice meal or a chill out with a brew.

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  5. Thank you so much, Liz. I am certainly not going to become a hermit because of my kids. :) I chose the place because they do a really good deal for kids - they can have a kids meal (which is a fairly substantial portion), a drink (of a decent size too) and an ice cream or a small cake for £3.95. I'm not sure I can feed them at home for that much!! They must be used to having kids in their place. We've been out today on the train and they were pretty good most of the time and people around us mostly looked at them with indulgent smiles rather than scowls as they are so full of life and happiness.

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  6. Thanks Elaine. I think I've just had a bad week with not particularly much for Monkey to do so the week has been hard, combined with the dealing with the night shifts etc. He's on a football course next week which is school hours which is nice as can drop him anytime from 8.30 and means I have two childfree days.

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  7. I can totally sympathise as my elder two have driven me insane this week. Yesterday they went for long overdue haircuts and even though I had gone over beforehand how I'd like them to behave they still lost all control once they got through the doors. I actually dread the hairdressers, she is a lovely lady but every time I go in there she sucks her breath in the manner of a mechanic about to deliver bad news and says 'Three eh? Don't know how you manage. Are you managing?' And just once I'd like her not to feel like saying that!! What's worse is the baby gets all the flak and he is the lowest maintenance. In fact he is a peach at the moment compared to #1 and #2.

    Trouble is you have to get out and do things and it's impossible to avoid the stares and tutting so I just try and get on with it. Today my daughter has shouted that she wanted a poo in Comet (when really she just found ovens boring) and sat on the floor in Sainsburys (legs were tired)and my son's every other sentence was 'Shut up!' complete with scowl. Fun times!

    I think the manager sounds like he was being quite friendly in the way he was saying it. In a way it is better if other people comment on behaviour as it reinforces what you are saying. I swear mine mist over once I start talking. Though if it was done in a nasty way that would be a different matter, I have left a restaurant in tears before now after being 'told off' by another customer over my son playing with a car at the table. It was a kid friendly place too.

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  8. It may do them good to have heard it from someone else. My girls are very exuberant, it's not only boys, and I quite often feel self conscious when we're out because I feel other people are thinking I can't control them, but actually I don't want children who just sit quietly looking all neat and tidy. I love their spirit and it wont be long before they're all grown up and have lost a lot of that spirit. So don't worry about it, most people understand how children are and if they don't, who cares, you know your children.

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  9. We have all been there. I am sure the people in the restaurant forgot about it 20 seconds after you walked out, even if you can't forget about it. I am certain that there will be far worse things that happen in there every day.

    I think all Mums worry much much more about their own children than anyone else would. For what it's worth, I think you're a great mum for taking them out for a meal on your own anyway.

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  10. Oh, these things happen all the time. I agree with what has been said before. Kids usually listen more when a stranger tells them, especially one in perceived authority. And as for disrupting the enjoyment of others, it was a shopping centre food court, not The Ivy, and I'm sure the looks you got far from being judgemental were sympathetic. Go back, do it all again. One day they'll stop embarrassing you, but probably not until they are at least 21. :)

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  11. You know, I think it's nice when adults feel able to teach your children - if they're talking to the kids (not you) I actually think it's quite respectful, because they're assuming the kids are smart and decent enough to listen and pay attention to what's being said.

    It's true as well, kids do tend to listen to other adults more than their parents in that sort of situation, so he may have genuinely thought he was being helpful - and the wink might be because he was being complicit with you - as in 'we know what's going on' sort of thing.

    I certainly wouldn't feel embarrassed!

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  12. So many times I have told my kids that "THE MAN" will come tell them off if they don't behave. Embarrassed? I'd be kissing the guys feet for proving that "THE MAN" exists!

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  13. Do you want the honest truth I had to read this twice to see what the problem was. I think what he did was fine. He was being friendly and just trying to help. I doubt anyone else thought twice about it. However, when I think about it, if it were me I would have been totally gutted myself. But that's because as parents we care what people think of us and our children. So what I am trying to say is the way you are feeling is normal but don't worry about it. Leave it a week before you go back and I bet no one even remembers who you are.

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  14. Thanks Claire for taking the time to post such a thoughtful comment.

    I think with mine, it's just every now and then they are like this. In some situations, they suddenly go completely shy and mute.

    Thankfully, they both love the hairdresser they go to (tho Missy Woo now thinks she should go to have her hair cut with mummy at the "salon" !) and like having their haircut, if they can keep their heads still long enough. And she is a grandmother - her grandson is about the same age, phew!

    I've never yet left a restaurant because of their behaviour but when Monkey was younger, we have had to drag or carry him out of places when he's had paddies. I hate doing it but I won't stand for it.

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  15. Thanks Tracy. My two definitely can't be accused of being all quiet, neat and tidy!! I sometimes wish they were fitted with volume control knobs. ;)

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  16. Hi Rebecca, and thanks for visiting and commenting. I really am hoping mine aren't the worst in their place in a selfish kind of way. They don't swear and the only people they are ever rude to are their parents.

    I was a bit desperate on Wednesday but I do tend to take them out a lot myself. Since Missy Woo turned 1, my OH has had work that has meant he works shifts. It used to be sleepover shifts - so he was away for 24 hours at a time, then it was days where some days he works all of their waking hours and for 12 weeks, he's now working a night shift pattern which means when he's working, he's pretty much out of circulation barring an hour or two in the day. If I don't go out then, I'll just live like a hermit half the time.

    It's difficult to explain, but something about this guy's manner made me think that it wasn'tjust to help. I can't put my finger on it but it could just be paranoia.

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  17. LOL, nettie, I am liking your style!! Don't worry, I won't stop going out with them and we'll probably even go back there at some point. We had a phase when we used to go to the Trafford Centre a lot but visits have lessened (partly because we have less money to play with).

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  18. Hi Mrs W, thanks for commenting. :) I'm liking your style too! I will definitely be using this as a future tactic to see if it works in controlling them. Usually, my best strategy is to stuff them full of food as Monkey in particular has a voracious 5yo boy appetite that they all seem to have.

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  19. Hi there, thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it and I am glad you understand where I'm coming from. I don't get to the Trafford Centre half so much these days and anyway, it's school holidays, I now have school shoes sorted so I'll be giving the place a wide berth unless I'm desperate. By which time, I hope they won't think that "oh no it's that mad family again, quick everyone hide.... " ;)

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  20. i'm sure this guy only thought he was helping. i think you can rest assured that you're just as normal as the rest of us!
    nice post. x

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  21. I was going to post a comment yesterday but then thought I don't have kids so I probably don't know what I'm talking about! ;)

    I don't think you should feel bad or embarrassed in any way - it must happen all the time and the manager was just wanting to consider his staff too in case of accidents (and I've seen a few near misses in my time with kids running around).

    I'll admit I have sometimes tutted at parents who seemingly allow their kids to run riot in public places, but I always correct myself because I don't know what it's really like, and for all I know - they could normally be little angels!

    Don't sweat it - you're not a bad mother. :)

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  22. I think you're worrying too much! Like most people, I think no-one else will have thought twice or remembered what happened. And yes, children sometimes take more notice when somebone 'in authority' re-enforces what you've been telling them will happen if they don't behave. I don't think I ever took our children out for a meal somewhere on my own - we couldn't afford to, in those days there weren't child friendly cafes either - it would have been my idea of hell!! :-)

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  23. I'm sure we have all had days like that - I certainly did! Back you go, with a great big smile!!

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  24. Thanks Paula. I know I'm probably just being paranoid but yannooo...

    Thanks for the comment.

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  25. Thanks Tabby. I welcome comments from everyone, not just parents on this one as i like to know it from the other side. I was probably like you once, having to put myself in someone else's shoes.

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  26. Yes, miss. ;) (And thanks!)

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  27. Thank you, Sharon. I guess we are lucky that places like the Trafford Centre is a haven for family friendly eating. I sound really extravagant taking them out for lunch, don't I? ;)

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  28. Thanks Sally. I hadn't thought of it that way and I guess that is true. I know as a child, I would have wanted to be spoken to like a grown up. I guess I was well into "stressed mother mode".

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  29. If it's the first time that a member of staff has tried to help you out this way then I can totally understand why you felt embarrassed. You'll easily slip into the ways of the grateful glance to the assistant whilst threatening your children with all sorts of nasties ;)

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