Our little ones are only this little once, I live by this mantra daily. I embrace the chaos, I laugh so I don’t cry, and I will never pass up the request for a hug, snuggle or kiss. I also let my kid do ‘kid things’ and I never really thought twice about it until recently.
My daughter is two, while she is the light of our life, she is also the reason most of our meals are spent in the safety of our home. If you have little ones, I am sure you can relate. Going out to eat with a toddler is almost always stress inducing and very rarely is it a relaxing experience. She wants to sit in the booth next to me, and then next to dad, and then she wants to stand, and then dance. She wants to drink my water, and reach for the ice, and take the straw out of her cup and put it back in again. She wants to wave hi to everyone that walks by, then look out the window, and then FINALLY when the food arrives she might sit for a few minutes.
My daughter doesn’t have a tablet or iPad, it is a decision we made as a family and for now it is working for us. I don’t ever judge another parent for how they choose to raise their children, as we are all doing our best. I expect the same judgment-free respect back as well. I have never experienced judgment for my parenting choices until we went out to eat recently.
When we bravely go in public with my daughter, the diaper bag is full of entertainment and snacks. I have crayons, books, small figurines, goldfish and animal crackers. These supplies are always packed with the intention of being used on a “as needed basis” so they are never my first line of defense. Plus, crayons are fun but the sugar packets are even more fun.
Now, I let my two year old be two. So she will stand in the booth or touch the windows if she is looking outside. I don’t ever expect her to sit quietly and obey – she’s two. She won’t be two for long, and one day she will sit patiently in her seat when we are out to eat, but today is not that day.
Recently, while we were waiting for our food, my husband and I let our daughter play with the sugar packets. She likes to count them or tell us the colors. We put all the pink ones in one pile and yellow ones in another. It doesn’t bother anyone around us, and quite frankly it keeps her focused long enough for us to figure out what we will do next to entertain her before the food is ready.
Well, while doing this one day we had someone come up to us and firmly told us that we should never let her touch all of those sugar packets. They are filled with germs, and they are not toys for children to touch. The comment was made with a complete attitude and judgment. They followed up by saying, she shouldn’t be playing with her straw or standing in the booth either. Taken aback, my husband and I were both speechless.
Yes, those sugar packets are absolutely covered in germs. So is my kid. Like, have you ever met a kid? Germs don’t scare them. In fact, germs are good for them. Germs help build immunity and these “Covid babies,” the ones who spent their first few months or years of life being kept far away from people and places could use a little bit of an immunity boost.
After the interaction though, it got me thinking. Am I making the wrong parenting choices? Should I be more worried about germs? Do I invest in a tablet just to keep my daughter sitting quietly and not touching anything while out to eat?
At the end of the day, I don’t think I am doing anything wrong. I am doing my best too, just as every other Mama out there is. Sometimes my daughter walks around in the grass without shoes on, sometimes she finds a goldfish hidden among her toys that has been there for who knows how long, and she eats it. Sometimes she stands on the booth when at a restaurant. Sometimes my daughter licks her toes…(Yeah, I don’t know?…) But she’s little and I let her be that way.
Mama, tell me you can relate. Tell me you also let your little ones, just be little, whatever that means to you. I hope you never judge another parent for a choice they are making, and I hope you never feel the judgment I felt for my choices. You do what works for you and I will do what works for me. Neither of us are wrong, we are both just two Mamas who love their babies unconditionally and parenting the way that works for us.